Divine Mercy Icon

Divine Mercy Icon
The image of Divine Mercy is portrayed in many forms of art. The most
popular format that many are familiar with is the framed portrait. We have
one hanging in our Church. It is however classed as an icon. I have
purchased several icons form Monastery Icons. The picture above is one of
them. I think it portrays well all the features of the image. The Divine
Mercy Icon originates from the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska in which
she was instructed by the Lord Himself to have His image painted. I will
use references to her diary as it helps us to understand the theology behind
the image and the feast associated with it. The Second Sunday of Easter and
within the Octave of Easter is known as Divine Mercy Sunday. We celebrate
the Divine Chaplet associated with it from Good Friday until the Second
Sunday of Easter. It is associated with the Gospel of John when our Lord
appears to the disciples. The first time He appears Thomas is absent but is
present when He appears the second time.
The Icon
When I look at the Icon I am immediately drawn to the person of Christ
with rays shining from His body. The rays are red and white symbolizing
the blood and water that flowed from His side. His hand is raised giving a
blessing. His wounds are apparent in His hands and feet and His side from
which the rays are shining forth. This is the love of the heart of the Son.
The halo above His head signifies His divinity. The door behind Him is the
door to the upper room where He appeared to the disciples. All the
geometric figures and symmetry of the icon can be found here. The colors
are used appropriately to symbolize the story that is being told in the image.
These are important elements Edvokimov uses in his analysis of the icon.
He uses this procedure in the icons discussed in Part IV of The Art of the
Icon. This is what we are presented with as we look at the icon. There is
much more behind the image that just the image itself.
A Theological Understanding of the Icon
The basic theological message behind the Divine Mercy Icon is the
forgiveness and tender mercy of God. The mercy is shown in the suffering,
dying, and rising of Christ from the dead. “We reflect the glory of the Lord
as in a mirror. An icon is this mirror which allows the major attributes of the
Lord’s glory to flow forth, that is, His Light.” (Part III, Ch. 5) The Lord’s
light and glory shine forth in the risen Christ. He has conquered sin and
death. The icon wants us to share in this light. This Light is reflected in the
Easter Vigil Mass with the Service of Light at the beginning of the service.
Christ is risen and we are to share in the risen life and Light of Christ.
“The icon is a symbolico-personal representation which invites us to
transcend the symbol and to enter into communion with the person
represented and to participate in the indescribable. (Part III, Ch. 11) This is
certainly what we read in the Diary of Saint Faustina. Christ wants us to go
beyond the image and enter fully into His divine mercy.
The Risen Christ entrusts His ministry to the disciples in the Upper Room
when He appears to them and says “Peace be with you. As the Father as
sent Me, even so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the
sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
(Jn. 20:21-23) After speaking these words Jesus shows them His hands and
His side especially the wound in His heart, the source from which flows the
great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.” (Sec. 1) “Blood and water!
We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who
when the soldier on Cal vary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood
and water flowing from it. (cf. Jn. 19:34) Moreover, if the blood recalls
the sacrifice of the cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water in Johannine
symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
(cf. Jn. 3:5, 4:14, 7:37-39) (Sec. 2) John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday
Homily, April 30, 2000. Here is summed up the meaning of the icon. It is
meant for all of us as well as the disciples.
When I look at the icon the first thing that my eyes perceive are the rays
and they signify to me the Eucharist and Baptism and the blood and water
that are signified by them. Blood and water are significant terms in the Old
Testament and the New Testament. The blood on the doorposts in the
Exodus and the blood shed on the cross. The water that satisfied the thirst of
the people in the desert in the Old Testament and the water of the Jordan at
Christ’s Baptism and from Christ’s side in the New Testament.
Saint Faustina in her diary tells us That Christ said to her: “”For you I
descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed Myself to be nailed
to the cross. For you I let My Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus
opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then with trust to
draw graces from the fountain.” (Diary, 1485,80) This small paragraph
sums it all up for us. The love of God poured out for us in the death and
resurrection of Christ.
“During a service, the liturgical texts center on the event being celebrated
and are in fact a commentary on that event. The liturgical mystery makes
the event “present” and transmits its living context to the icon of the feast.”
(Edvokimov, Part III, Ch.3) This is what we celebrate in the liturgy and all
the sacraments. The mercy and love of God poured out for us.
This is a painting by Adolf Hyles
This is the original image painted by Eugene Kazimirowski in the sanctuary
in Vinius.. It was painted by the direction of Saint Faustina.