Friday the whole world starts preparing for a feast that was first celebrated in Vilnius

A feast that Pope John Paul II directed all the world’s Catholics to celebrate was first celebrated in Vilnius, Lithuania, 85 years ago. That feast is Divine Mercy Sunday, marked on the Sunday after Easter. Already this Friday, Good Friday, April 10, a nine-day prayer vigil begins which will lead up to the feast of Divine Mercy.
In 1935, on the Sunday after Easter, the Divine Mercy image, not seen in public before, was hung in the gallery at the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius and Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated.
After that, reproductions of the image spread around the world and, 20 years ago, St. Pope John Paul II declared the second Sunday of Easter ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’ in the universal Church.
At the time, when declaring Sister Faustina a saint, John Paul II said: “Christ showed us the many paths of mercy [and] bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual. His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man.”
The famous image of Divine Mercy is now venerated in Vilnius, at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, where a Week of Divine Mercy is celebrated during the whole week after Easter. People are invited to join remotely in Holy Mass, praying the Chaplet of Mercy, adoring the Blessed Sacrament and listening to the readings of the Diary of St. Faustina.
Those who wish may submit names of loved ones they are praying for – the names will be placed beside the Divine Mercy image. Holy Mass is celebrated every day at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time in Lithuanian, and at 4 p.m. in Polish. On Divine Mercy Sunday, there will be a Holy Mass in English at 5 p.m. which will be broadcast on EWTN television to many English-speaking countries.
For nine days starting this Friday, at 3 p.m. – the ‘Hour of Mercy’, a novena will be broadcast online from the House of St. Faustina, a former convent in the Antakalnis neighbourhood of Vilnius. All are invited to join in the prayer on the Facebook page of the Vilnius Pilgrim Center. The renovated House of St. Faustina will open its doors to visitors and pilgrims when the quarantine ends.
On the eve of the Second World War, while living at the convent in Antakalnis, sister Faustina had visions in which Jesus requested prayer for mercy for all the world. Based on St. Faustina’s visions, artist Eugenijusz Kazimirowski painted the image of Divine Mercy, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that Jesus had dictated was written down, the novena leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday was composed, the Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus was established, and throughout the world prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.) began as a way of honouring the time of Jesus’ death.
A live feed from the Shrine of Divine Mercy can be viewed 24 hours a day (on the shrine’s YouTube channel). When services are not in progress, the shrine is open for personal prayer.
Submission of intentions in English: