The Mercedarians Celebrate Their 800th Anniversary

Source: FSSPX News

Vision of St. Peter Nolasco, by Francisco de Zurbarán

On January 17, 2018, the Holy See Press Office published the message sent by the Pope to the Master General of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

Approved by Pope Gregory IX in 1218, this religious order was created to ransom Christian slaves from Muslims in Spain.

January 28 is the liturgical feast of St. Peter Nolasco. He founded the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in order to devote himself, body and soul, to the salvation of Christians held captive by the infidels. At the time, Muslims merchants made many raids both on the Mediterranean Sea and on the southern coasts of Europe to capture people and reduce them to slavery.

The members of the Order had to offer themselves to the pagans as prisoners in exchange for the freedom of their Christian brothers if necessary.

The Mercedarians Today

In his message, Francis spoke of the great St. Peter Nolasco, the founder and “recipient of the charism given by God”. He then turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying her example is “commitment that recalls the sacrifice of the ancient redeemer fathers, who themselves remained as ‘hostages,’ as pledge of the freedom of the captives.” He ended by speaking of Christ the Redeemer, who “looks at us in our eyes and loves us, asking us to leave it all to follow Him”. 

Centuries have gone by. Although he did not invite the Mercedarians to continue their work of saving captive souls from the Mohammedan sect  - there is no lack of these souls throughout the world – Francis encouraged the Order to go to “the periphery”, “to answer the challenges that humanity faces today, to go out to the captives of our times: those who are persecuted for their Faith, prisoners, victims of trafficking, the poor, the marginalized, the social outcasts, to suffer with them and bring them consolation/” 

These merciful hearts are no doubt good and necessary, and likely to touch and convert souls. May the Mercedarians, however, rather than contenting themselves with a purely social role, act with the charity of truth, refusing all compromise with the world and remaining faithful to their founer.