‘The infinite reaches you via narrow waters,’ says a verse by French poet Jean-Pierre Lemaire. Not waters, but equally narrow streets, flank the sanctuary of the ‘Divina Misericordia’ in Rome, welcoming the soft voices of passers-by and the slow murmur of the Tiber River, which flows placidly indifferently a few metres from this important centre of spirituality, which Pope John Paul II wished to dedicate to the cult of the Divine Mercy.
Here, after navigating the shady and narrow streets crisscrossing around the basilica of St. Peter’s, reach pilgrims, worshippers, nonbelievers and seekers, a multifarious humanity with damaged hearts and no-one to confide in or to entrust secret sorrows to.
They arrive at the invisible threshold, with souls enclosed in a bubble of loneliness and discontent, not to understand, only to believe, to let go, to surrender to love, or rather let themselves be loved, let themselves encounter God, even before they come to know Him.
They come to knock on the door of a merciful Father, whom perhaps until the day before they never knew existed. And here they understand that surrendering oneself means simply accepting the paternity of God, knowing that the foundation of everything is in the consciousness of belonging to Someone, in the certainty of having a Father.
At the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, there is a constant coming and going of people, at all times and every day of the year. Here the sky is not empty, here arrive people who have known well the hells of life, with human stories marked by moments of great fragility and disappointment, and those who have experienced fully the power of darkness are not afraid to rely on the seemingly weak power of prayer.
Confessions, silent petitions and lit candles are offered in front of the large painting standing in the chapel on the right, which portrays Jesus from whose chest radiates two beams of light, one red and one white, above a banner saying ‘Jesus, I trust in you’.
In the same chapel, there is a statue of Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun of the first half of the last century, canonized by John Paul II in the Great Jubilee of 2000 and indicated by him to the whole world as a messenger of Divine Mercy for the humanity of the third millennium.
For the Polish pope, today a saint, the Divine Mercy sums up and interprets once again for our time the mystery of Redemption. ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34).
What is this commandment of Jesus, if not the commandment of mercy?
Our Pope Francis knew this well when on 13th March 2015, on the third anniversary of his pontificate, by the Misericordiae Vultus Bull he indicted ‘The Extraordinary Jubilee Of Mercy’.