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Photo: Marian Archives
Saint Faustina during the sole visit she made to her family during her convent life. On the right, her parents; on the left, her godparents.
What's in a Name?
By Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC (Jun 22, 2010)
A name was usually understood to imply some particular characteristic of the person bearing it. Such is the case with the Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska, whose revelations from Jesus in the 1930s brought us The Divine Mercy message and devotions.
At baptism, the third child of Stanislaus and Marianna Kowalski was given the name of the famous saint of the early Church who was the mother of Emperor Constantine, Helena. It comes from the Greek, Helene, the name of the goddess of light, meaning "the Bright One," and derives from the Greek word for the sun — helios. It must have been under the Lord's inspiration for her parents so to name her, for through her the Lord has certainly enlightened the Church and the world with the message of Divine Mercy.
Upon her admission into the convent, Helena received the name "Maria Faustina." Faustina means "favorable," "fortunate," "propitious," "helpful." The Lord's inspiration must have been at work in this, too, for early in the sister's life as a religious, the Lord appeared to her and indicated her future impact upon the world. He declared: "Do whatever you wish, distribute graces as you will, to whom you will and when you will" (Diary, 31).
Then, Sr. Faustina was allowed by the custom of her religious order to adopt an additional name to the one given her at entrance to the religious life. She chose to be called Sr. Maria Faustina of the Most Holy Sacrament. How fitting! After all, the Most Holy Sacrament was the essence of her life and defined the essence of her spirituality.
"One thing alone sustains me, and that is Holy Communion," she wrote in her Diary (1037). "From it I draw all my strength; in it is all my comfort ... Jesus concealed in the Host is everything to me ... I would not know how to give glory to God if I did not have the Eucharist in my heart."
Interestingly, the centenary of her birth, on Aug. 25, 2005, happened to come within the year solemnly dedicated by the Holy Father, John Paul II — who canonized her — to the honor of The Most Holy Eucharist.
Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, served as vice-postulator for North America in St. Maria Faustina's canonization cause.