Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
“So, as not to create a monument, I wanted to show Faustina as a real person with flesh and blood and bones,” said Kamila Kamińska. Kamińska is a popular Polish actress who plays the title role in the 2019 docudrama Love and Mercy: Faustina, which was released Oct. 28 and which is coming to theaters for two more nights Dec. 2 and 10. Kamińska eagerly embraced the challenge of portraying a religious sister known for her personal holiness, after playing such gritty roles as a physician who helped an athlete overcome his drug dependency, and a woman coming to terms with her own abortion.
Kamila talked recently with the Register about the unique challenges of playing a saint on the big screen. It was quite different, she said, from her earlier roles in the 2017 films Breaking the Limits, in which she played a doctor who helped Ironman triathlete Jerzy Górski to overcome his heroin addiction, and The Art of Loving, in which she played a post-abortive woman. “Entering the role of a religious sister was a challenge for me,” Kamila explained, “to focus, first of all, on her inner world and the relationship she had with Jesus and with [her spiritual director] Father Michal Sopoćko.” That was, in her estimation, her greatest challenge: “to focus, find silence, and face the ideas and imaginations of people about the holy character.”
Helena Kowalska was the birth name of Sister Faustina, the nun who achieved holiness and developed a relationship with Jesus. Christ revealed himself to Sister Faustina in a vision, with two rays of light shining from his heart, symbolizing the Blood and Water which flowed from his side when the soldier pierced his side with a lance. But the young nun who would become a saint was not highly regarded in her native Poland; she came from a simple background. Helena Kowalska, Kamila explained, “came from a poor family, she finished only three school classes, she didn't have much knowledge – but she was extremely intelligent and loved.” Kamila added that Poland is a country where there are many committed Catholics. “...Our hearts, relationships and deeds we have experienced show we really trust Jesus.” For Kamila, her personal experience of learning about God is the most important thing.
In Love and Mercy: Faustina, the role of Father Sopoćko was played by well-known Polish actor Maciej Malysa. “I really appreciated working with Maciej,” Kamila confided. “I believe that we have complemented each other. By nature, I am emotional, he is calm – which translated into our characters. It was important to us to focus on the relationship, which was exceptional. [Sr. Faustina and Fr. Sopoćko] wrote letters to each other.” Kamila reported that Maciej frequently came to rehearsals with fresh new stories he'd read in the letters, newly-read curiosities about Father Sopoćko.
The actress, a Catholic, reflected on how learning about devotion to the Divine Mercy has inspired her personally. “I remember from my childhood the image of Sister Faustina,” she said. “But I knew nothing about her. I learned about the existence of a diary when I was in France. My friend Ania read it; she even lent me a diary then, but I was only able to read three pages and I put it aside, until I started preparing for the movie.”
Now years later, Kamila understands the important message of Divine Mercy, and she is happy to play a role which may make the devotion more relevant for others. “I think this movie is for everyone,” she said, “not just for believers. Everyone deserves love and mercy, no matter what nationality, race, age or religion. Everyone. I am grateful that I can be part of this movie.”
Love and Mercy: Faustina, written and directed by Michal Kondrat, is coming to select theaters across America for repeat showings Dec. 2 and 10. For more information or to find a theater near you, visit the movie website, loveandmercymovie.com.