Marian Helper Spring_2013 - page 15

Light of the World seemed to ominously fade
into a black background.
In fact, the Marians received several com-
plaints about it. To solve this problem, during
the Great Jubilee Year 2000, we approached the
Cardinal Archbishop of Vilnius and offered to
have the image restored. The Cardinal readily
accepted such a generous offer, and the
Marians had the image professionally cleaned
and restored back to its original glorious state,
which was only possible with the financial
assistance of many Marian Helpers.
Improving the restored image’s quality
What a difference the restoration made!
Unfortunately, the official photograph of the
restored image was not of the best quality. It
certainly was an improvement from the soot-
covered image, but it was still too dark. Well, the
Marians had to make the best of it, and we pro-
duced hundreds of thousands of prayercards
based on the photo we’d been given. Over the
years, though, as computer technology devel-
oped, the Marians were able to digitally adjust
the photo to improve the image’s quality. As
soon as I saw one of these new and improved
images, I changed my opinion of the Vilnius
image, and it quickly became my favorite.
Years later in 2008, I had the joy of attend-
ing the beatification of St. Faustina’s spiritual
director, Fr. Michael Sopocko, in Bialystok,
Poland. Before the Mass began, young people
passed out prayercards of the Vilnius image to
those in attendance. I took one, and after glanc-
ing at it, I had to do a double-take, saying to
myself, “Where did
come from?” Indeed, this
Vilnius image was much clearer, brighter, and
more vibrant than the ones the Marians had
been producing. I decided right then and there
that someday I would work to improve the
Marians’ image, so it could be just as beautiful.
Well, when I became “Fr. Joseph, MIC,”
director of the Association of Marian Helpers,
on Jan. 1, 2011, that day came. First, with the
help of my provincial superior, the Very Rev. Fr.
Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, we were able to
obtain a high-quality photo of the restored
Vilnius image. Then, I asked several graphic
artists, most notably, Curtis Bohner, to do their
best to improve the quality of the image. Using
the latest computer technology to adjust the
brightness and contrast, these graphic artists
yielded an incredible result. In fact, everyone
who saw the newly improved image had the
same response, “Wow!” We all agreed that
this newly improved image was
even more
than the prayercard I’d received at
Fr. Sopoko’s beatification.
The canvas challenge
Once we had such a new and improved
image, we immediately began to print it on
prayercards and larger prints. When I saw the
first batch that came off the press, I just about
cried. I was so happy! I knew that the images
would touch countless hearts and that we were
producing what many were calling “the most
beautiful Divine Mercy image in the world.” But
I wasn’t completely satisfied. I remember think-
ing to myself, “This latest Divine Mercy image is
so glorious that it deserves to be on canvas.”
Now, by this time, I’d learned that gallery-
wrapped, canvas images are the highest quality
you can get. (“Gallery wrapped” means that the
canvas is stretched over and fastened to an inte-
rior frame of wood.) However, I also knew that
such images cost hundreds of dollars. Surely,
not many people can afford them. But didn’t
Jesus say to Faustina regarding the image, “Let
every soul have access to it”? Indeed, He did.
, 570.) Therefore, I had a new chal-
lenge: To make our new Vilnius image available
• S
2013 •
Reproduction of the Vilnius image has improved over the years.
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