For many years I’ve marveled about the “coincidence” of three highly influential saints living in Krakow at roughly the same moment in history: St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope St. John Paul II.
George Weigel has pointed out in the book we co-authored, City of Saints, that Poland was the place where the 20th century happened — the place where Nazism and Communism would run their violent course, one after the other. The antidote to these, Weigel added, was also found in Poland, particularly in the work, prayer, and sacrifices of these three related but marvelously different saints.
Although there is little evidence that Wojtyla knew either of the other future-saints personally despite the close proximity in which they all lived, the more direct connections between them came about posthumously. As pope, John Paul II was a promoter of Fr. Maximilian the Mariologist and Martyr – canonizing him in 1982 and calling him an “apostle of a new Marian era.” The Polish Pope was also the promulgator of St. Faustina’s Diaries and the Divine Mercy devotion, adding the Divine Mercy Feast to the Church calendar. Their relationship seemed to come full circle when Pope John Paul II was canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2014.
While working on my book, The Marian Option, it occurred to me that there does seem to be a missing link, however, between Sts. Faustina and Maximilian. What is the connection between Divine Mercy and Mary? I was intrigued by this seemingly missing piece and thought there might be something worth investigating. I had a hunch that there had to be a deeper link between Mercy and Mary somewhere in the mix.
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