To honor the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, here are two modern saints who are wonderful examples of how to live a life of mercy.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was born to a German father and a Polish mother in 1894. He heard his calling to be a Franciscan priest when he was very young and after ordination, he travelled to many places, including Nagasaki, Japan. The monastery he established there miraculously survived the atomic bomb that hit Nagasaki on August 14, 1945. He eventually returned to Poland and founded other communities but when WWII broke out, he was sent to Auschwitz and suffered greatly. When a group of prisoners attempted to escape one day, the Nazis singled out random individuals to be starved to death as examples to the rest of the camp. He chose to go in one prisoner's stead and died from a lethal injection two weeks later. His cell is preserved at Auschwitz as a memorial to the sacrifice he made for his fellow prisoners. St. John Paul II canonized him on October 10, 1982. Today he is widely admired around the world by many people of faith who find his life inspiring.
St. Faustina Kowalska was also born in Poland in 1905. She received her call to religious life at a young age and ran away from home to Warsaw to join a convent. Beginning in 1931, she started to receive various mystical visions from Jesus asking her to develop and spread a devotion to His Divine Mercy. Although her fellow sisters often mocked her as a fraud and as someone who was simply making up her visions to get attention, she persevered in prayer and grew to trust God with the help of her spiritual director. She eventually made up her own set of prayers using rosary beads which today is called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. She died on October 5, 1938 at 33 years of age. Her Divine Mercy Chaplet has proved to be inspiring to many faithful Catholics, giving them hope when they otherwise might not have it.