Francis delivers homage to John Paul II with morning of mercy

KRAKOW, Poland – Popes pay tribute to their predecessors all the time in small ways – with footnotes to their documents, for instance, or references to their teaching, or simply by mentioning them in various contexts.

If ever an entire papal morning had “homage” written all over it, however, it was Pope Francis’ visit on Saturday to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, in the Krakow neighborhood of Lagiewniki, and then his Mass for priests and religious at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II.

Divine Mercy, of course, is the devotion associated with St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who entered the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925 and later reported that she soon began to have visions of Jesus, Mary and several saints. During one of these visions, she recounted, she was instructed to commission a painting of Jesus based on Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light coming out from his heart and the signature line, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

It was Krakow’s Archbishop Karol Wojtyła, later Pope John Paul II, who in 1965 began a beatification process for Kowalska, and who promoted the Divine Mercy devotion aggressively. In fact, the reason the site is called a “shrine” is because Wojtyla designated it as such, and in 1985 he declared that Lagiewniki as the

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