The Sacred Image

John Bulsza employed a number of 2' x 3' posters to stimulate him during his swim. Some of these posters were reminders of correct stroke technique; however, John is a strongly religious person and he derived great mental strength from his religious beliefs. In the weeks and months prior to his Lake Huron crossing, he spent many hours of silent contemplation in a chapel. One of his posters had a special meaning for him and provided him with the ultimate stimulus. It is The Sacred Image - seen in detail at the left, it is also seen on his web page being displayed from one of the two inflatable support boats in the later stages of the swim.

The following description of The Sacred Image is taken from pages 29-30 of the booklet "The Divine Mercy: Message and Devotion" published by Marian Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263, USA, ISBN 0-944203-17-5.

In 1931, Our Lord appeared to Blessed Faustina [Kowalska] in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in a blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe, but also with great joy. Jesus said to her:

"Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus I trust in You . . . I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory . . . I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: "Jesus, I trust in You" . . . I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world."

At the request of her spiritual director, Blessed Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply:

"The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross . . . Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him . . . By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works."

Many different versions of this image have been painted, but Our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important.

When Blessed Faustina first saw the original image that was being painted under her direction, she wept in disappointment and complained to Jesus: "Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?" In answer she heard these words:

"Not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace."

So, no matter which version of the image we prefer, we can be assured that it is a vehicle of God's grace if it is revered with trust in His mercy.

With a knowledge of John's religious beliefs, the poem about John's Lake Huron swim (written by Bryan Finlay) explores some of the thoughts that might have passed through his mind during his marathon swim.

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Created: 21st August 1999
Last Updated: 23rd March 2003