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The Philippines is one of the world‘s most populous Catholic countries, and Catholicism here is a powerful force rather than simply a semi-historical „culture“ as it is in many regions of Europe. As such, Filipinos are still building massive cathedrals and religious sculptures.

Many new massive statues of Jesus Christ have been built and among the most popular styles for them is the Divine Mercy, based on the image of the Divine Mercy painted in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the original is still located.

Divine Mercy Hills near El Salvador in the Philippines

Divine Mercy Hills near El Salvador, Mindanao island, the Philippines

This painting was inspired by a vision of Jesus to Sister Faustyna who lived in Vilnius. In 1934, she found a painter who would take that vision onto a canvas. This image of rays flooding from Christ‘s heart became a focal point of the Divine Mercy cult. It was popularized further during World War 2 when soldiers carried copies of the image. Divine Mercy became especially known in Poland, as sister Faustyna and the painter Eugene Kazimierowski as well as Michał Sopoćko who helped Faustyna achieve her goals all were ethnically Polish inhabitants of Vilnius. Later, the cult spread all over the world, with copies of the Divine Mercy image now being seen in Catholic and even Anglican churches on every continent. Some 100 million people are said to pray to Divine Mercy.

Images of Divine Mercy in the Philippines

Images of Divine Mercy in the Philippines

That said, by this time (late 20th century), in most Catholic countries, the era of lavish new churches and religious buildings had already come to an end and so there was little Divine Mercy cult inspired imagery beyond simple paintings donated to the churches.

Not so in the Philippines, where numerous massive Divine Mercy statues were built.

The largest one is located in the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Marilao, near the Philippine capital of Manila, erected in 2017. It is 46 m tall (including the 3-floored building that forms its bottom part, or 30 m tall excluding it). The Divine Mercy Shrine itself was opened in 1992 but, like many key Filipino churches, it is constantly expanding as religion in the Philippines stays strong while the population grows quickly. It has many images of the Divine Mercy.

Divine Mercy statue near Manila

Divine Mercy statue near Manila

The second largest one is in the Divine Mercy Hills, Mindanao island, erected in 2008. The Divine Mercy „rays“ there are stairways that can be used to climb to Christ‘s heart. The Mindanao statue is surrounded by a nicely landscaped park. While the statue itself is 15 m tall, its prominent location on the hilltop makes it seem it is far taller.

The top of the Divine Mercy statue in Mindanao

The top of the Divine Mercy statue in Mindanao, with the stairways leading to the heart of Jesus

Both of these statues center on larger pilgrimage complexes consisting of churches and chapels with numerous copies of the Divine Mercy painting. The people instrumental in the start of the cult who lived in Vilnius, such Michał Sopoćko [Lithuanian: Mykolas Sopočka] and sister Faustyna, are also mentioned there.

There are many smaller Divine Mercy statues located all over the Philippines.

The Divine Mercy statue near Manila

The Divine Mercy statue near Manila

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