Divine Mercy is a devotion to Jesus Christ associated with the reported apparitions of Jesus to Faustina Kowalska. The venerated image refers to what Kowalska's diary describes as "God's loving mercy" towards all people, especially for sinners.
Sr. Faustina was granted the title "Secretary of Mercy" by the Holy See in the Jubilee Year of 2000. She reported a number of apparitions during religious ecstasy which she wrote in her 1934–1938 diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul.
The two main themes of the devotion are to trust in Christ's endless goodness, and to show mercy to others acting as a conduit for God's love towards them.
Pope John Paul II, a native of Poland, had great affinity towards this devotion and authorised it in the Liturgical Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The liturgical Feast of the Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.
The Divine Mercy is commemorated at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.), which according to Kowalska's diary is the time of the death of Jesus. "At three o’clock "the ninth hour" Jesus "cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last."
Another very popular form of the devotion is the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one's own heart towards those in need of it.
As he dedicated the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II referred to this when he said: "Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind".
There are seven main forms of this devotion:
The Divine Mercy image with the specific inscription - Jesus, I trust in You;
The commemoration of the Feast of the Divine Mercy Sunday
The recitation of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy
The recitation of the Divine Mercy novena
The designation of the Hour of Mercy at 3:00 a.m. or p.m.
Spreading mercy by word, deed, or prayer
The spreading of works of mercy to the whole humanity, in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to Earth
Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God.
— Words attributed to Jesus by Sr Faustina in her diary.
As in the prayers that form the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, there are three main themes to the Divine Mercy devotion: to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ's abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God's mercy towards them.
The first and second elements relate to the signature "Jesus I trust in You" on the Divine Mercy image and Sr Faustina stated that on 28 April 1935, the day the first Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated, Jesus told her: "Every soul believing and trusting in My Mercy will obtain it."
The third component is reflected in the statement "Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners" attributed to Jesus in Sr Faustina's diary (Notebook I, items 186–187). This statement is followed in the diary by a specific short prayer:
"O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You."
which Sr Faustina also recommended for the Hour of Divine Mercy.
In her diary (Notebook II, item 742) Sr Faustina wrote that Jesus told her: "I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me." and that he explained that there are three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first-by deed, the second-by word, the third-by prayer.
The Divine Mercy devotion views mercy as the key element in the plan of God for salvation and emphasizes the belief that it was through mercy that God gave his only son for the redemption of mankind, after the fall of Adam. The opening prayer for Divine Mercy Sunday Mass refers to this and begins:
"Heavenly Father and God of Mercy, We no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for He is alive and has become the Lord of Life".