When Devotions Aren't Helpful

When Devotions Aren't Helpful

We’ve never liked the Divine Mercy images you see on most holy cards and website — the ones based on the 1943 painting by Adolf Hyla, with Jesus tilting his head to one side and making good eye contact with the viewer.

To our eyes this Jesus (seen above) looks too much like the mild, slightly effeminate, northern European Jesus of too much sentimental Protestant devotional art — something that, as converts, we’re more than slightly allergic to.

Everything about the Hyla-influenced Divine Mercy images, from the waves of Jesus’ hair and the shape of his beard to the cast of his upraised hand and the exaggerated bathrobe sleeves, is off-putting to us. His face is too gaunt, skin too creamy, his expression too dreamy. (I’m also not a fan of the "twinkling" effect of the red and pale rays in some versions of this image, though not the original Hyla.) One of us dubbed this familiar image "Seventies Dude Jesus," and it’s stuck ever since.

The original Divine Mercy image (pictured below) created for St. Faustina by Eugene Kazimierowski at Vilnius (called the Vilnius image), a restored version of which has been available since 2003, is, we think, so vastly superior to Seventies Dude Jesus that it’s hard to quantify.

This is the image that made Sr. Faustina cry with its inadequacy until Jesus told her it was good enough. I’m sure Jesus would have said the Hyla image was good enough too, but that would have been a lot more generous of Him in my opinion.