Maria Vargo Faustina

Maria Vargo as Faustina.

If it seems as if the world is going astray, an inspirational theatrical performance titled “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy” may serve as a wake-up call.

The 90-minute performance is a live, one-woman drama performed by actress Maria Vargo.

The drama tells of Faustina’s personal encounters with Jesus, which have inspired a worldwide devotion to Christ’s Divine Mercy.

A parallel modern story within the play offers audiences compelling connections to the current moral issues of cotemporary times.

The play will be presented to the general public at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Bishop McCort High School’s Guzzi Performing Arts Center. “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy” also will be presented at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at the JFK Student Center on the campus of St. Francis University in Loretto.

Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in 1905 in Poland.

Coming from a peasant family, she was a poor girl, destined to be a housekeeper, with no education or prospects.

She longed for God, and despite the protests of her parents, and after a vision of Jesus telling her to head for Warsaw and become a nun, she secretly hopped on a train. Upon reaching the city, she knocked on the doors of convents until The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy finally took a chance and let her in.

As a nun she took the name Sister Maria Faustina and spent the rest of her life doing menial work as a cook and gardener.

In 1930, the mystical visions started for the young nun. Jesus appeared to her in a white garment, with rays of white and red light emanating from near His heart. He asked her to paint his image, with the message, “Jesus, I trust in You” across the bottom. That was the beginning of a special mission that took years to develop into a powerful devotion for the Catholic Church – the Divine Mercy.

Jesus continued to speak through Sister Faustina who continued to keep a diary of her vision, until she died of tuberculosis in 1938.

She was declared a saint in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, who declared the Sunday after Easter as Mercy Sunday.

Audiences are calling the production a “wake-up call” because it is based on the prophecies revealed by God to sister.

“The message of the performance is to tell audience members how much God loves us,” Vargo said. “It assures people that there is nothing in their lives that would keep God from loving them.”

It is a one-woman show, but thanks to technology, Vargo has an opportunity to interact with other characters.

“We use a multimedia big screen and I interact my dialogue with characters on the screen,” she said.

The performance is appropriate for all denominations and ages.

The show is touted for anyone 13 or over, but Vargo said children as young as 8 have approached her after the show and told her how it impacted them.

The majority of the script is taken from Faustina’s writings.

Vargo, a Roman Catholic, has discovered changes in her own life since undertaking the role in October 2013.

“I have gone through my own conversion in the past and some of that is included in my portrayal as the contemporary woman on the screen,” she said.

“Faustina was a suffering soul, not in a victimized way but in the sense that she understood how offering her redemptive sufferings helped other souls.”

Even for skeptics and nonbelievers, Vargo thinks everyone can appreciate the show.

“But I also think people can’t help but to be moved by the production,” she said.

If you go

What: “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy.”

Where: Bishop McCort High School’s Guzzi Performing Arts Center.

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 18.

Tickets: Available at Johnstown area Roman Catholic parish offices or by contacting Joan Stofko at 255-7356.

Donation: $5.

Information: 536-8991.


What: “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy.”

Where: St. Francis University’s JFK Center on the Loretto campus.

When: 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 20.

Tickets: University campus ministry office at 472-3329.

Admission: Free, but ticket required.

Tom Lavis writes features for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @TomLavisTD.​

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