CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI remembered the priest who was instrumental in helping St. Faustina Kowalska write her diary and communicate to the world her spiritual experiences.
In greeting Polish pilgrims today after praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope turned his thoughts to the faithful gathered in Bialystok, Poland, for the beatification of Father Michal Sopocko, confessor and spiritual director of St. Faustina Kowalska.
Father Sopocko (1888-1975) was also the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus and the lay institute of Divine Mercy. He was born in Juszewszczyna, near the region of Vilnius (which at that time was in Poland, but is now in Lithuania).
“At his suggestion,” Benedict XVI said, “[Sister Faustina] described her mystical experiences and apparitions of merciful Jesus in her well known ‘Diary.’” And also “thanks to his efforts,” the Pope added, “the image with the words ‘Jesus, I trust in you,’ was painted and transmitted to the world.”
The image of the merciful Jesus is the work of Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, a Polish artist to whom Father Sopocko entrusted the task of reproducing what Sr. Faustina described in her diary.
“This Servant of God became known as a zealous priest, teacher and promoter of the Divine Mercy devotion,” the Pontiff said.
The Holy Father noted that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had “entrusted the world to Divine Mercy.”
Benedict XVI repeated John Paul II’s words to the pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence: “May God, who is rich in mercy, bless you!”
Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, was sent by Benedict XVI to be his representative at today’s beatification Mass in the square of the Church of Divine Mercy in Bialystok.
Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, delivered the homily during the Eucharistic celebration.
According to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Amato invited all to follow the teaching of the Polish priest, especially in family relationships.
“In families,” the archbishop said, “there is need for mercy every day; every day the wife must be compassionate with her husband and vice-versa, continually reconfirming their reciprocal fidelity.”
“Every day parents must be magnanimous in forgiving their children,” he said, “in experiencing their disobedience and their mistakes. But children too must be patient with their parents.”
Everyone, the prelate explained, in the family, at work, in society, everywhere and always, “can exercise mercy, forgiveness, understanding: our society needs honest, good, generous, compassionate citizens.”