“My gaze from this Image is like My gaze from the Cross.”
– Diary of Saint Faustina, para.326
The original Image of Divine Mercy was painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski under the direction of Saint Faustina and her confessor, Blessed Father Michał Sopoćko, and it was completed in 1934, three years after the original vision upon which the Image is based. In her Diary, Faustina notes that it was painted at the express will of the Merciful Jesus –
“Paint an Image according to the pattern you see, with the signature – ‘Jesus, I trust in You’.” (Diary, para. 47)
This original Image is the only one Saint Faustina ever saw during her lifetime. She bemoaned that the Image was not as beautiful as the Lord she had looked upon – but then, how could any image capture His divine countenance? Telling Him this, the Lord reminded her that the Image was a conduit of His great grace regardless, that it’s power lies in His grace alone, and not in the beauty of the artwork itself.
One of the notable pooints about this particular Image of Divine Mercy – this original version of the Image – is the symbolism contained in the painting, and which I have written about elsewhere. Here, I want to look only at one point – the look of Face of Jesus.
The Image was painted over a period of several months, using Father Sopoćko as the model for the Lord; he also paid cost of having the painting created. Saint Faustina took enormous care that this Image should re-present what she had seen as closely as possible in every detail – something which is not the case in a great many of the other versions of the Divine Mercy Image which have been painted since then.
One of the most crucial details is that in the original Image, the gaze of the Lord is looking slightly down, and not directly at the viewer of the Image. He Himself comments on the reason for this feature in the Diary –
“My gaze from this Image is like My gaze from the Cross.” (Diary, para.326)
The reason for this is very straight-forward; it is from the Cross that all mercy flows, for the Passion and Death of the Lord is the greatest manifestation of His mercy. And it was upon the Cross that the Sacred Heart of Jesus was opened by the lance, and from which poured the Blood and Water which are represented by the rays in the Image.
The gaze of Christ here in the Divine Mercy Image is the gaze of the Crucified – the One who gives everything of Himself, even to the expenditure of His very life, for love of souls. To express it another way, this Image of Divine Mercy reminds us of the real cost of Divine Mercy – it cost everything, for it cost the Lord His life. This is the fullness of mercy. And it is the reason why Divine Mercy can obtain all things, why it is without limit to the contrite heart that asks for it.