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 Vilnius, September 28: The Image of Merciful Jesus Replaced to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy

On September 28 the image of Merciful Jesus, painted according the vision of St. Faustyna Kowalska, was replaced from the church of the Holy Spirit to the closely located sanctuary of Divine Mercy. Replacement was organized by the administrator of the parish of the Holy Spirit, Rev. Wiktor Bogdziewicz, and the rector of sanctuary of Divine Mercy, Rev. Vaidas Vaišvilas. According to the commentary of the auxiliary Bishop of Vilnius, Msgr. Juozas Tunaitis, the replacement was the consequence of the 2004 March 8 decree of Archbishop of Vilnius, Cardinal Audrys Bačkis. The replacement of the venerable image was not accomplished earlier because of continuing boycott of some, mainly aged parishioners, insisting to keep it in the church of the Holy Spirit. The parish of the Holy Spirit is the Center of the Polish Catholic community of Vilnius.

Considering the tensions around the venerable image Cardinal Bačkis had visited Vatican and asked advice of the Holy Father John Paul II on April 3, 2004. Cardinal Audrys Bačkis also made known the idea of replacement of the venerable image to Polish Primat Cardinal Jozef Glemp.

On March 8, 2004 Cardinal Audrys J.Bačkis published the Decree ordering the establishment of the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy within the renovated building of previous St. Trinity Church in Vilnius. Archbishop of Vilnius also decreed to relocate the image of Divine Mercy painted according to indications of St. Faustyna Kowalska into the newly established Sanctuary. The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy was consecrated on April 18, the feast of Divine Mercy. Cardinal Bačkis also decreed to organize daily prayer services in Lithuanian and Polish languages and to enable prayer services for pilgrim groups in their native languages after the consecration of the new Sanctuary.

The image was painted according to the words of Jesus perceived by Sr. Faustyna in her mystical vision of February 22, 1931. In 1934 Eugeniusz Kazimierowicz painted the image following the indications and supervision of Sr. Faustyna. In 1935 the image of Divine Mercy was publicly exposed in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn. However the image did not find the constant proper place of public worship. It experienced many relocations and dangers especially in the years of Soviet occupation. In 1986 thanks to the efforts of Rev. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz (actually Archbishop in Moscow) and Rev. Aleksander Kaszkiewicz (actually Bishop of Grodno) the image was brought back to Vilnius from the small parish church in Soviet Bielorussia. Because of practical security reasons it was temporally exposed in the church of the Holy Spirit.

Another image of the Merciful Jesus painted by Adolf Hylo in Crakow in 1943 (after the death of St. Faustyna) has got higher profile in many countries. However the primary original image of Divine Mercy is that of Vilnius. In 1993 the Pope John Paul II prayed in front of this image during his visit in Lithuania. In 2003 the image was professionally restored, and now it can better represent the original vision of Jesus indicated by St. Faustyna.

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