While there won’t be public celebration of Masses in the Archdiocese of St. Louis on the feast of Divine Mercy, there still are plenty of ways to participate in the devotion.
Divine Mercy Sunday is observed on the octave of Easter; this year, the feast will be celebrated April 19.
The devotion originated with St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who kept a diary in the 1930s of Christ’s private revelations, telling her of His message of mercy. She wrote that she first saw a vision of Jesus on Feb. 22, 1931. He had rays of mercy streaming from His heart. Christ told her to have an image painted to represent the vision and to write below it, “Jesus, I trust in you!”
St. Faustina died of tuberculosis in 1938 at age 33. St. John Paul II canonized her in 2000 and declared Divine Mercy Sunday a worldwide feast day. Two years later, he granted a plenary indulgence for those who participate in the devotion. St. John Paul II was canonized on the feast of Divine Mercy in 2014.
It is still possible to receive the plenary indulgence, even with the cancellation of publicly celebrated Masses. The Vatican decree establishing the indulgence notes a special provision “for those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill.” The decree also states that “all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes” … “may obtain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday.”
To receive the graces of the plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday, Catholics must fulfill three conditions, with the intention of fulfilling them as soon as possible: sacramental confession, Holy Communion and prayers for the intentions of the pope. The faithful, in a state of grace and detached from venial sin, also are asked to take part in the prayers and devotions the Second Sunday of Easter held in honor of Divine Mercy in any church or chapel, or else they should recite the Our Father and Creed before the Blessed Sacrament adding a devotional prayer to our Lord.
The decree also states that “If it is impossible that people do even this, on the same day, they may obtain the plenary indulgence, if, with a spiritual intention they are united with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the indulgence, in the usual way, and offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.”
Catholics also are encouraged to pray the novena of Divine Mercy, which begins Good Friday and ends the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday; to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet; and to be merciful toward others through words, actions and prayers. To learn how to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and novena, visit
>> Divine Mercy signs
The Divine Mercy Workers is a ministry of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Washington that promotes the Divine Mercy devotion through yard signs. Proceeds from the smaller signs (ranging from $10-30) are used to provide larger images to parishes and religious orders, as well as for evangelization along major highways.
Larger highway images are also available for personal display upon request and have been installed on barns and farms around Franklin and Warren counties.
Kenn Obermark of the Divine Mercy Workers said the group has made about 2,500 signs to date, which have been shipped to 13 states. To order a sign, call Obermark at (636) 239-7456.