With Thérèse and Faustina, a trifecta of apostles of Divine Mercy.
Canada has been blessed with many saints (14) and blesseds (11) since the 1640s when the heroic North American Martyrs were tortured and slain. Some of Canada’s finest, like these martyrs, won renown for their zeal for the conversion of souls.
Other Canadian saints are known for tangible accomplishments. In the 17th century, for example, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys founded the Congregation of Nôtre-Dame and, with her sisters, willingly set out to live in remote huts to bring education to children who were widely dispersed throughout the territory of New France. In the 18th century, St. Marguerite d’Youville founded the “Grey Sisters” (Sisters of Charity) and established hospitals in Montréal and, through the order, eventually across the breadth of Canada.
Others are renowned as workers of miracles, like St. Brother André, the force behind St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Bl. Dina Bélanger (1897-1929) did none of these things in her brief life. If she was known for anything in Québec City, it was for being a concert pianist (trained at a NY conservatory) and a gifted composer prior to entering the order of the Religieuse de Jésus-Marie at the age of 24. Even today few Americans know of her.
What sets Bl. Dina (in religious life, Mère Marie Sainte-Cécile de Rome) apart and makes her especially worthy of our esteem was her interior life. Like Thérèse of Lisieux immediately before her and Faustina Kowalska after her, Bl. Dina was privileged to be a mystic, a bride of Christ in whom he confided the depths of his merciful love for every human being.
In a book I heartily recommend, Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI, author Robert Stackpole draws numerous similarities among these three women religious whose lives on earth overlapped in time though never geographically.
Each was blessed to have been raised by devout parents who instructed them in the faith by their lives as well as their words.
Each chose a life of obscurity, simplicity and self-renunciation to the point of offering themselves to Jesus as victim souls.
Each quietly rejoiced in their humiliations as a means of remaining little and meek for love of Jesus.
Each were ordered by their superiors to keep a diary of their mystical experiences: The Story of a Soul by Thérèse, The Autobiography of Dina Bélanger and The Diary of St. Faustina.
Each died at a young age: Thérèse at 24, Dina at 32 and Faustina at 33 years—all three of tuberculosis.
Each was an apostle of Divine Mercy: Thérèse, a Doctor of Divine Love; Dina, known as the “Little Flower of Canada”; and Faustina whose name is forever linked to Divine Mercy. As Dr. Stackpole illustrates, many passages from Dina’s autobiography are echoed in Faustina’s Diary. Here’s just one example.
Bl. Dina wrote: “If the angels could desire anything, it seems to me that they would envy us our privilege of suffering, as well as the priceless gift of the Eucharist” (Autobiography, p. 106).
St. Faustina wrote: “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: One is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering” (Diary, no. 1804).
Jesus asked Dina to console his heart in reparation for the outrages he receives in the Blessed Sacrament. He would also tell her how many souls he wanted her “to win for him” each day. She wrote: “Our Redeemer longs to pardon and forget. He often awaits only a gesture or a thought of love on our part to grant to some sinner the extraordinary grace that will snatch him from Satan’s toils.”
Faustina repeated the words Jesus gave her: “The greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to my Mercy.”