The 'One Thing' Is Three

With humor and ease, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, deftly unlocks the 'one thing,'... Read more


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Photo: Kimmie Leeco

Rob and Jennifer Kestyn and their children Meredith and Emily hang the image of Divine Mercy in their home. They chose to hang the image by the front door, so they could venerate it every day before heading out.

Far, Far More than Home Décor

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For Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, providing affordable Divine Mercy images is a dream come true.

By Fr. Joseph, MIC (Feb 26, 2013)
It's time for some firsts. For starters, this is the first time I'm writing a cover story, the first time I've volunteered to write an article, and the first time I've really looked forward to writing one. In fact, I've never been so excited to write! Why? Because of another "first" that I'm eager to tell you about.

I'm overjoyed to announce that for the first time, the Marian Fathers are offering a brand new, freshly restored, stunningly beautiful, gallery-wrapped Divine Mercy image on museum-quality canvas — all for an incredibly low price and at a size ideal for display in homes.

Forgive me if this sounds like a commercial. It's just that I really want to share this great news with you as a Marian Helper. For me, it's a dream come true. Imagine the impact of such a beautiful Divine Mercy image being displayed and venerated by the faithful in thousands of homes across our land. Imagine the image in your home.

The Marians Restore the Image
Before I share with you about the canvas Divine Mercy image we are offering, I want to say something about the image itself and why it's so amazing.

First of all, there are various versions of the Divine Mercy image, which is a blessing. After all, Jesus told St. Faustina, "Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace" (Diary, 313). However, there's only one image of Divine Mercy that St. Faustina herself directed to have painted. This special painting is known as the "Vilnius image," because it was painted in the city of Vilnius, located in modern day Lithuania. The Vilnius image, which is based on St. Faustina's eyewitness account of the Merciful Jesus, is by far my favorite version of the image of Divine Mercy — but there was a time when I didn't like it at all.

For years, the original Vilnius image hung in a church where the flickering light of votive candles illuminated it day and night. Unfortunately, with time, a thick layer of soot formed on the surface of the painting, darkening it. The first Divine Mercy prayercard I ever saw reproduced this soot-covered painting. There was little trace of the power of the Resurrection gloriously breaking through the darkness. Instead, the Light of the World seemed to ominously fade into a black background.

In fact, the Marians received several complaints 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 produced hundreds of thousands of prayercards based on the photo we'd been given. Over the years, though, as computer technology developed, 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 attending 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 glancing at it, I had to do a double-take, saying to myself, "Where did this 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 beautiful 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 thinking 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 interior 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. (See Diary, 570.) Therefore, I had a new challenge: To make our new Vilnius image available on gallery-wrapped canvas at an affordable price.

What price? Without hesitation, I knew it had to be $19.95. Why? Because, I figured, 20 dollars was a price that most people could afford. Not surprisingly, though, when I mentioned this price goal to others, they laughed. In fact, one joked, "Sure, you can sell gallery-wrapped, canvas images at that price, but they'll have to be the size of a stamp!" Well, I certainly didn't intend to sell micro-sized Divine Mercy images. So, I settled on what I believe is the perfect-size image for a home, 10" x 18", and I called a meeting with two of my Marian brothers, Br. Chris Alar, MIC, and Mark Fanders, a lay aggregatus member of the community.

Before entering the Marians, both Br. Chris and Mark had been very successful in the business world, and they'd left everything to help spread the message of Divine Mercy. I figured that they could help make my dream a reality. To my disappointment, though, the meeting didn't start out well. When I told them my goal — gallery-wrapped, canvas images for $19.95 — they said it couldn't be done. I told them it had to be done, and they said, "Okay."

The Dream Comes True
With the help of our printshop manager, Charlie Parise, Br. Chris and Mark found a special canvas process that would allow us to print our Divine Mercy image on museum-quality canvas in such a way that the image would be waterproof, smudge-proof, and fade-proof (guaranteed not to fade for 50 years). Just one problem: The process was relatively expensive, and they told me I'd have to raise the price. I said, "No. It's got to be $19.95. Please find a way." Again, they said, "Okay."

After weeks of research, Br. Chris and Mark came up with a plan whereby we could sell 10" x 18" gallery-wrapped images for $19.95 — but we'd have to bring the entire production process in house. I said, "Alright, then let's make it happen."

So, working with the head of maintenance on Eden Hill, the guys were able to find a way to rotate our maintenance staff to produce the images during slower work times, such as the winter months. Also, working with Francis Bourdon, executive director of the Marian Helpers Center, they were able to find a way to rotate office staff to produce the images during the slower work times in the office, such as the summer months. Great! We now had our labor force, but just one last problem: the cost of the equipment.

Mark and Br. Chris explained to me that unless someone donated the capital to purchase the equipment needed for the whole in-house production process — the gallery-wrap machine, canvas supply, wood, special printer, shipping materials, and work stations — then we wouldn't be able to begin the work. Well, we turned to the Lord in prayer, and on the very morning when we were to make the decision, a Marian Helper called one of our Marian priests. For some reason, she felt she should call, adding, "Do you need any help?" This priest asked her to call me, and when I told her about the project, she immediately committed the amount we needed to get started!

So, thanks to God and the help of so many people, I'm overjoyed to announce that you can now order an unbelievably beautiful, canvas, gallery-wrapped 10" x 18" Vilnius Divine Mercy image for just $19.95 (plus shipping and handling)! I see this as one of the Lord's special gifts to you for your home for the Year of Faith. As for me, it surely is a dream come true.

To order the 10" x 18" Vilnius image (B18-PV10GW) and for other versions, sizes, prices, and even framing options, visit

"Fr. Joseph, MIC," is the honorary title of the director of the Association of Marian Helpers. The current director is Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Leslie - Jan 28, 2016

I am wondering two things: How big is the orginal Vilnius Divine Mercy image?

And, Why does your picture say "Jesus, I trust in You," when from what I've seen it should say, "Jesus, I trust in Thee."

I love this image! - Feb 26, 2013

The "Editor" is quite right. My little prayerbook (GOD WHO IS RICH IN MERCY) which explains veneration of the Image says that "the words used in the signature of the image, 'Jesus, I trust in You', represent the most magnificent response we can offer to this divine love." It further states that Rev. Rozycki encouraged us to venerate the image while examining our conscience to see if we did a deed of mercy today (includes action, word, or prayer) - for the Sermon on the Mount teaches us "blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." This Image shows us how merciful He is - how can we reflect this to others? The prayerbook also includes "The Act of Offering Yourself to The Divine Mercy." One could meditate on the Stations of the Cross - including John 19:33-34 when "blood and water flowed out" of His Heart. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy (and the Novena) could be prayed. The meaning of the Image could be studied in the Diary of Sr. Faustina (see the Index - there are countless paragraphs that mention it - there are many elements that may fascinate devotees: the history of the vision and painters, the meaning of the colors of the rays, the stories Sr. Faustina told about the rays of mercy, etc). For example, paragraph 1789 says that Sr. Faustina saw the glory of God flowing from the image and she knew that "many souls are receiving graces, although they do not speak of it openly." Family members could have a prayer time (Hour of Mercy would be perfect! but whenenver the family can be together, especially at Easter) in a favorite prayer corner at home with the Image, and talk to eachother openly about these graces - share prayer requests - and pray together as a family. Forgiveness and peace is important in the family home - and this Image causes mercy to act in souls and draws them deeper into divine intimacy with the Merciful Savior. Ideally this would be a beautiful way for families to share togetherness in Faith - besides from individual and church community celebration of the Divine Mercy devotion especially leading to the Feast of Mercy. This Image doesn't have to be everybody's favorite picture (there are many wonderful pictures of the life of Jesus) - Jesus is more beautiful than any painting of him - Sr. Faustina knew this and was even disappointed by the painting after she'd seen the vision - the important thing might be what her confessor originally told her: to paint God's image in our soul (paragraph 49) afterall we are created in the image of God. However, Jesus wanted even more than this interior castle decoration - He really wanted this image to be painted, because as the Divine Mercy Art webpage describes each version of the painting: "our Lord promised that graces would flow through it (Diary of St. Faustina, 313)." If your family wants to get creative and draw/paint the image, awesome! But certainly we ought to paint it in our souls. Divine Mercy in OUR souls too, like Sr. Faustina.

A devotee - Feb 26, 2013

This is so good to read !

Hope there could be a fund that persons could donate to , to support this very project , esp. for places like Africa and for rectories , nursing homes , schools Etc too.

Hope larger size of this image also would be available - in our time that is so polluted by negative images , a good size image of Divine Mercy , with The Lord's compassionate Fatherly gaze can be the healing help !

Editor - Feb 26, 2013

Hi Mike.

The words at the bottom of the image, "Jesus I trust in You," should be your prayer each day before the image, and this prayer should be combined with an examination of conscience, an examination of how we have fulfilled Christ's demands to perform at least one deed of mercy daily.

As Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, has suggested, the first entry of St. Faustina’s Diary is a beautiful hymn about the Image that could also be used as prayer before the Image:

O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted
And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy,
You bless whoever approaches Your rays,
And a soul all black will turn into snow.
O sweet Jesus, it is here
You established the throne of Your mercy
To bring joy and hope to sinful man.
From Your open Heart, as from a pure fount,
Flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man’s soul.
May praise of God‘s mercy pour from every heart,
Now, and at every hour, and forever and ever (Diary, 1).

God Bless!

Jesus, I trust in You!

Mike - Feb 26, 2013

Could someone please elaborate on what the acceptable ways to venerate the Image at home are?