Blessed Michael (in Polish: Michał) Sopoćko ([mʲiˈxaw ˈsɔpɔt͡ɕkɔ]; November 1, 1888 – February 15, 1975) was a Roman Catholic priest and professor at Vilnius University. He is best known as the spiritual director of Saint Faustina Kowalska.
Blessed Michael Sopoćko
Father Michał Sopoćko
|Born||1 November 1888|
Juszewszczyzna, Ashmyany, Poland
|Died||15 February 1975 (aged 86)|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||28 September 2008, Białystok, Poland by Cardinal Angelo Amato|
Sopoćko was born in 1888 in Juszewszczyzna (also known as Nowosady) near Valozhyn in present-day Belarus. He entered Vilnius Priest Seminary in 1910 and was ordained in 1914. He was a priest in Vilnius (1914–1918), then a chaplain in the army in Warsaw and Vilnius during World War I. After obtaining his doctorate in theology in 1926 he became the spiritual director at the seminary in Vilnius. and 1928 professor of pastoral theology at Stefan Batory University in Vilnius.
Sopoćko was very supportive of the Divine Mercy devotion of Faustina Kowalska and in her diary (Notebook V, item 1238) she stated: "This priest is a great soul, entirely filled with God." Since 1931 Faustina had been trying (without success) to find someone to paint the Divine Mercy image until Sopoćko became her confessor in the middle of 1933. By January 1934 Sopocko arranged for the artist Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (who was also a professor at the university) to paint the image.
On Friday April 26, 1935 Sopoćko delivered the first sermon ever on the Divine Mercy – and Faustina attended the sermon. The first Mass during which the Divine Mercy image was displayed was on April 28, 1935, the Divine Mercy Sunday (the first after Easter). Sopoćko managed to obtain permission to place the Divine Mercy image within the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius as he celebrated the Mass that Sunday.
In the summer of 1936 Sopoćko wrote the first brochure on the Divine Mercy devotion and obtained the imprimatur of Archbishop Jałbrzykowski for it. The brochure carried the Divine Mercy image on the cover.
Faustina used to regard him as a saint:
This priest is a great soul who is completely filled with God (Diary 1238). Thanks to his effort a new light will shine in God's Church for the salvation of souls. […] I have not met such faithfulness to God as this soul features (1390). This soul, so humble, was able to withstand all storms and has not get discouraged with obstacles, but answered faithfully to God's call (1586).
Jesus had a similar opinion:
This is a priest according to My heart; his efforts are pleasant to Me. […] Through him I disseminate consolations for suffering, worried souls; through him I have been well pleased to proclaim the worship to My mercy (1256). His thought is closely connected with My thought, so be calm about My work; I will not allow him to mistake, and you, do not do anything without his permission (1408).
In 1942, during World War II Sopoćko and other professors and students had to go into hiding near Vilnius for about two years. However, he used this time to establish a new religious congregation based on the Divine Mercy messages reported by Faustina Kowalska. After the War, Sopoćko wrote the constitution for the congregation and helped the formation of what is now Zgromadzenie Sióstr Jezusa Miłosiernego.
In an entry in her diary on February 8, 1935, (Notebook I, item 378) Faustina had written that the Divine Mercy devotion would be suppressed for some time after her death, but would be accepted again, although Sopoćko would suffer for it. In 1959 the Vatican forbade the Divine Mercy devotion and censured Sopoćko. But in 1965 Karol Wojtyła, then Archbishop of Kraków and later Pope John Paul II opened a new investigation and submitted documents in 1968, which resulted in the reversal of the ban in 1978.
After the Second World War, when the boundaries of Poland changed so much, Sopoćko left Vilnius. Until 1962 he has been a professor of pastoral theology at the seminary in Białystok. That time he wrote a book Miłosierdzie Boga w dziełach Jego (Mercy of God in His works) in four volumes. He died on February 15, 1975 in Białystok, Poland, and was buried there. In 1988 his remains were transferred to the Church of Divine Mercy in Białostoczek.
The decisive factor in obtaining God’s Mercy is trust. Trust is the expectation of someone’s help. It does not constitute a separate virtue, but is an essential condition of the virtue of hope, and an integral part of the virtues of fortitude and generosity. Because trust springs from faith, it strengthens hope and love, and is, moreover, linked up, in one way or another, with the moral virtues. It may, therefore, be called the basis on which the theological virtues unite with the moral. The moral virtues, originally natural, become supernatural if we practice them with trust in God’s help.
Sopoćko's case for beatification was started at the Vatican in 1987. In 2004, Pope John Paul II issued a decree on the virtues of Father Sopoćko. In December 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved of a miracle through his intercession. His solemn beatification took place on Sunday September 28, 2008 at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Białystok.
- "Blessed Father Sopocko will be the patron of Bialystok". wPolityce. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- Odell, pp. 84–85.
- Purest of All Lilies: The Virgin Mary in the Spirituality of St. Faustina by Donald H. Calloway, 2008, ISBN 978-1-59614-195-7, p. 29
- Vatican biography of Michał Sopoćko
- Torretto, pp. 84–107.
- Odell, Catherine M. Faustina: Apostle of Divine Mercy. OSV Press, 1998 (ISBN 978-0-87973-923-2), 85–95
- Torretto, p. 16.
- Odell, pp. 102–103.
- Odell, p. 119.
- Tim Drake, 2002, Saints of the Jubilee, ISBN 978-1-4033-1009-5, pp. 85–95
- Catherine M. Odell, 1998, Faustina: Apostle of Divine Mercy, OSV Press, ISBN 978-0-87973-923-2, pp. 153–160
- An Anthology of Christian mysticism by Harvey D. Egan, 1991, ISBN 0-8146-6012-6, pp. 563–565
- Sopocko, Michael, "Trust in God", Catholic Chaplaincy, University of Glasgow