Tag Archives: Mercedarians

From Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic Priest an Interview with Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M.the man who made that Journey

Father Daniel Bowen O. de M. orderofmercy.org

By Larry Peterson

Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M., distinctly remembers how every Sunday when he was growing up his mom would take him and his two brothers to Kingdom Hall. Their mom was a Jehovah’s Witness, and this was their church. It was as far removed from the Catholic church as one could imagine.

Young Daniel believed in God but was filled with doubts. By the time he became a teenager, he had decided he had enough of “church” and told his mom he did not want to go anymore  His father told his wife that Daniel did not have to go if he did not want to. Daniel seized the moment and stopped going.  After all,  he came first—all else came second.

The years passed by and Daniel more or less forgot about God. Once in college, he became more self-absorbed about his own needs and what might make him happy. Then he met a Catholic girl named Lisa.

Lisa told Daniel that if he wanted to date her, he would have to go to Mass with her. He did, and he liked it. Then she introduced him to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That was it. The young man, as the saying goes, was “hooked.”

Eventually, Daniel and Lisa took different life paths. The Holy Spirit had seized hold of Daniel Bowen and was not about to let go.  On August 15, 2015, the Solemnity of the Assumption, Daniel Bowen was ordained a priest. He now serves as Vocation Director for the Mercedarian Friars U.S.A.

You can find Father Daniel’s inspiring story HERE. It is a beautiful story of a man who took his leap of faith holding hands with the Holy Spirirt—ENJOY

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Now let’s ask Father Daniel some questions:

(Interviewer’s questions in Bold:     Father Daniel is (Fr. D) responses in Italics)

When and how did you receive your call to become a priest? Was there a moment in time or an event when you heard the Holy Spirit calling you?

  • D: “People began to ask me the question: Did I ever think about being a priest. I hadn’t, and so I had to ask God about it. It took a few years to figure it out, and then seminary to figure it out the rest of the way. No man knows for sure until he is laying on the ground before a Bishop on the day of his ordination. It is totally a Holy Spirit thing, and prayer is an essential part of it all.”

 Tell me your number one reason for being a priest?

  • D: “To know, love and joyfully serve God, and to love my neighbor as myself. To be a servant to God’s servants. All for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

What attracted you to the Mercedarians? (The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy)

  • D: “The Order was founded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, so this Marian aspect was most attractive to me. Also, the 4th vow, the Redemptive Vow, the willingness to lay down one’s life for another in danger of losing their faith – this “all in” aspect always spoke profoundly to my heart.”

 According to the General Rule Of Survey from the Univ. of Chicago, in 2015, among those 18 to 34 years old, 30 % do not have any religion at all. Many do not believe in God. Secularism seems to have infected many the world over. As the Vocation Director for the Mercedarians, your job must present quite the challenge. How is this going for you?

  • D: “I am still working on getting my wings, so to speak. Yes, it can be seen as a challenge, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity. God still calls people to Himself. Christ’s death and resurrection is completely relevant to every generation, even those who feel it does not need to apply to them. First is helping others know that our Lord, the God of love and mercy is real and necessary to live a life of complete fulfillment. To help them realize the Christian faith is about relationship – God’s desires us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. And then to facilitate an encounter with Him. Once men know this, then they can begin to find what the mission and plan that He has for their life. Could God be calling me to be a priest and/or a consecrated religious? And if the answer is yes, then one is best to find out if this is truly His calling, and if so acting on it.”

What advice would you give to a young person who is considering religious life?

  • D: “It is a great gift given by God to some, not all. It is a precious calling to be intimate with God and others in a way that no other lifestyle can match. It is a summons to love fully and without holding back. To proclaim boldly to our world that not only God exists, but He knows and loves us. That I am willing to forsake the goods of this life and world, in order to embrace, here and now, the blessing that God desires for us in heaven. My advice: Go for it!!! Do not be afraid, or put it off, go find out if this is God’s will for your life. If it is you will have the best life. If it is God’s will, then there will be a peace and deep, profound joy that will be under it all.”

 How do you, as a priest, deal with negativity about the Catholic Church in the media, when asked about it by a layperson?

  • D: “Some people were negative towards Jesus in His life here on earth. It is no different today. The Catholic Church is the body of Christ, yes there is a very human element, but there is also a divine element present here, that should not be so easily dismissed. For all her faults, and only the Lord knows why He permits them, the Church is the most charitable and truth-bearing place on the planet. She is the spouse of Christ, and so must be present to continue to bring Christ’s authentic presence, so that all generations may have the opportunity to encounter Him. Staying close to our Lord in prayer is key to keeping one’s head above water, especially when our faults are clearly manifested – keeping our hearts, minds, and souls on the Lord. Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

 What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?

  • D: “Helping others to believe that the faith is real, and then to fully surrender one’s life to it. Seeing people fall deeply and madly in love with our Lord, and seeing that transformation take place is most rewarding. Experiencing the good work our Lord is able to accomplish through people who desire Him to work in their lives is a beautiful blessing. Challenging is seeing those who fall away from the faith, or keep saying no to God, seeing the resulting destruction this does to that person and to others and knowing how much it hurts our Lord, this is challenging. But following Christ is a summons to love, and it is an invitation that one must be free to choose or reject. Otherwise, it really isn’t love is it?

Go here and listen to Father Daniel  discuss the kind of men  the Mercedarians are looking for

 THANK YOU Father Daniel for taking the time to do this interview. May God bless you as you move forward in your priestly ministry.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Three Catholic Saints who Managed to Live to the age of 100 and Beyond

 

Nheyob | CC BY SA 4.0 | Public Domain

By Larry Peterson

Recently I came across the names of eight saints who were centenarians. Incredibly they had made it up to and past the one-hundred-year mark without having the advantages of modern medicine and all the blessings we have available to us. No, they just lived their lives until God called them. Here is a brief account of three of them:

St. Simon Stock

Simon Stock was born in England in 1165 AD. Legend has it that at the age of twelve he began living as a hermit in the hollow trunk (“stock” means trunk) of a large, oak tree. In the early 13th  century Simon went to the Holy Land where he joined the newly formed Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Their origins were in Palestine and when they moved to Europe, Simon went with them. He became one of the early leaders of the order which became known as the Carmelites.

On July 26, 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Simon holding the Brown Scapular in one hand. She said to Simon,  “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

Simon Stock became the prior general of the Carmelites and under his leadership, the order spread across Europe and throughout England. Today the Brown Scapular is known and venerated the world over. (The word scapular comes from the Latin, scapula, meaning “shoulder blade” That is why the brown cloth covers the chest and the upper back).

Interestingly, St. Simon Stock was never formally canonized yet he is venerated in the Catholic Church, his feast day is May 16, and the Carmelites have honored him since 1564, which also has the approval of the Vatican.

Lastly, St. Simon Stock died in the year 1265. He was 100 years old.

St. Patrick

We all know that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but the dates of his life are murky at best. He was probably born in the early 5th century and, at the age of sixteen,  was captured by pirates. He was taken from his home in Britain to Ireland where he was held in captivity for six years before escaping back to his family.

He became a cleric and returned to Ireland working tirelessly to convert the pagan Celts. He became the first bishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland. His became a saint during the pre-congregation era.

All available documents suggest that St. Patrick died when he was 106 years old.

Raymond of Penyafort (Pennyforth)

Raymond was a lawyer, a preacher, and a priest who left a profound influence on the history of Spain and the Church. He was instrumental in re-Christianizing Spain after the Moors were defeated and his consolidation of papal decrees was the primary source of canon law for over 700 years.

Raymond was approached by Peter Nolasco, the Founder of the Mercedarians, and asked if he could help him get approval in founding his order. Raymond helped greatly, assisting his friend in getting the consent of King James I of Aragon and so were born the Mercedarians.

Already an accomplished lawyer and scholar, Raymond joined the Dominicans in  Barcelona in 1222. He was 47 years-old. Raymond was a gifted preacher and was very successful at evangelizing Moors and Jews.

In 1230, Pope Gregory IX, made Raymond his confessor. During this time Raymond sorted and put in order all the decrees of popes and councils since 1150. Canonists relied on Raymond’s succinctly arranged writings until the new codification in 1917.

Raymond Penyaforth died in 1275 at the age of 100. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement VIII in 1601. He is the patron saint of lawyers, including canon lawyers.

St. Raymond Penyaforth, pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2018

The Miracle of the Chest Lost at Sea—The Story of Our Lady of Bonaria

Our Lady of Bonaria & the Chest Lost at Sea
public domain

By Larry Peterson

There are numerous miracles that have taken place within the 800-year-old Mercedarian Order including that of St. Peter Armengol who gave himself over to the Muslims to save another. He was hanged from a tree only to be found alive six days later.  He told everyone that the Blessed Mother had held him up the entire time. When they took him down, he smelled like roses. Another was St. Raymond Nonnatus, the saint who was never born. (Click on his name for the fascinating story).

The other morning, I attended Mass which was offered by a friend of mine; he is a Mercedarian priest, and his name is Fr. Daniel Bowen.  After Mass, he, I and several others had breakfast together. During breakfast, Father Daniel began to tell a story. It was about Our Lady of Bonaria who became the Patroness of Sardinia. It was a story I had never heard.

Tradition says that on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1370, a ship sailing from Spain to Italy, was caught up in a terrible storm off the coast of Sardinia. The sailors were sure the boat was going to sink, so they began throwing cargo over the sides to lighten the load.

The last crate was unbelievably heavy, and the sailors could barely lift it. As soon as they managed to get it over the side and it hit the water, the storm stopped, the winds subsided, and the sea turned calm. They tried desperately to retrieve the crate, but it disappeared. Days later, and unknown to the sailors, the crate washed up on the shore of Sardinia at the foot of a hill called Bonaria.

There was a large crowd of people on the beach when the big wooden box floated onto the shore. They all hurried to see what it might be. Try as they may they could not open nor move it; it was too heavy. A child in the crowd cried out, “Call the Mercedarians. They will be able to open it.”

The nearby church and monastery had been under the care of the Mercedarians since 1335. The people hurried to the church and asked the friars to come with them to see the mysterious crate. When the friars arrived at the beach, they were able to lift the box without hardly any effort.

They then carried it to the church and in front of a large crowd of curious people opened it up without a bit of trouble. What they found inside the box amazed everyone there. It was a statue of Our Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. In the Virgin’s left hand was a candle. The candle was lit.

Unknown to those present they had just witnessed the fulfillment of a prophecy. When the church was built in 1330, Father Carlo Catalan was the ambassador to the Argonese Court. During the dedication, he told the monks, “A Great Lady will come to live in this place. After her coming, the malaria infecting this area will disappear, and her image will be called the Virgin of Bonaria.”

The friars, recalling the words of the priest, named the statue “Our Lady of Good Air.” They named it this because of the winds that had blown the statue across the sea to them. Due to the miracle word spread quickly among the people.

To this day sailors invoke the Blessed Virgin as their protectress, and the devotion is practiced in many places around the world. The founder of Argentina, Pedro de Mendoza, named the capital of the country after Our Lady of Bonaria calling it Buenos Aires (Holy Mary of the Fair Winds).

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, visited the shrine and gave a canonical coronation to the famous statue. He also bestowed the  Golden Rose on the Shrine.

Pope Francis made a repeat Apostolic visit to Sardinia in September 2013.

Finally, it should be noted, the Mercedarians have staffed and continually cared for the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria for over 680 years.

Our Lady of Bonaria, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

St. Peter Nolasco; He founded The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy; aka the Mercedarians. This year they celebrate 800 years of sacrifice and service to others.

St. Peter Nolasco….en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Peter Nolasco was known for having as his most pronounced virtue that of ‘love of neighbor.’ It was said that people already knew of this when he was only a baby. The story was that while in his cradle, a swarm of bees landed on him, and formed a honey-comb on his right hand. He was never harmed. This may be true or simply “urban-legend” but, no matter what, Peter Nolasco’s prime, interior virtue was obvious to people even when he was just a baby.

Peter Nolasco was born in Castelnaudary ( located in southern France) in 1189. His well to do parents died when he was very young. They left Peter a substantial inheritance, and since this was the time in history when the Albigensian heresy was exploding throughout France, Peter took his money and headed to Barcelona to be as far away from the Albigensians as possible.

He was a teenager when he arrived in Barcelona and joined the army that was fighting the Albigensians in the Iberian Peninsula. This area included most of Spain and Portugal. The army was led by Simon de Monfort.

When King Peter II of Aragon was defeated, in the Battle of Muret, his six-year-old son, James I, was captured and Peter was appointed the child’s tutor. This gave Peter standing, and after making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, he began to display his charitable virtue.

His concern for captive Christians began to build, and he decided to establish a religious order dedicated to helping these victims of the Moors who were capturing and enslaving Christians by the thousands. He was often heard saying that he would gladly offer himself as ransom if he could.

Peter Nolasco began ransoming Christian captives in 1203. In 1218,  Raymond of Penafort started a lay organization for the purpose of ransoming slaves. Peter, who was an advocate for this, decided to start an organization with rules and guidelines made up of religious members under the patronage of Mary.

In 1218 Peter also formed a congregation of religious men which today, 800 years later,  is known as The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. The title is summed up in one word, Mercedarians. Besides the standard vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, the Mercedarians also take a fourth vow; they agree to exchange themselves to free captive ChristiansIn the First Constitutions of the Order, the Amerian Constitutions (1272): “… all the brothers of the Order must always be gladly disposed to give up their lives, if it is necessary, as Jesus Christ gave up his for us…”

St. Peter Nolasco never lost sight of the fact that he would join with the Blessed Virgin to advance his ministry. He knew that saving the captives could never be accomplished without help from the Mother of Jesus. Mary is linked to the program of liberation. She is the model for all redemptive work. He knew that Our Lady was what reinforced and guaranteed all of the apostolic works that would be undertaken.

St. Peter Nolasco discovered that Mary was the foundation of freedom and mercy. She is the sustenance and point of the liberation movement. So much so that the order founded by him is called The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

From that point forward all Friars, Sisters, and the Third Order always considered Mary as the Mother of Freedom. She is the one who sustains and encourages the order with her ever continued and ongoing presence. The Blessed Mother came to Peter Nolasco and helped him realize that the mystery of God’s redemption is visible in the captivity and heartache of those held against their will. To this very day, they will offer themselves by trading their very selves for your freedom.

From the Mercedarian website:  orderofmercy.org

“Today, friars of the Order of Mercy continue to rescue others from modern types of captivity, such as social, political, and psychological forms. They work in jails, marginal neighborhoods, among addicts, and in hospitals. In the United States, the Order of Mercy gives special emphasis to educational and parish work.”

Pope Gregory IX gave the church’s official seal of approval to the Mercedarian order in 1230.

Peter Nolasco died on May 6, 1256. He was canonized a saint in 1628 by Pope Urban VIII.

St. Peter Nolasco, please pray for us all

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Please see other articles on members of The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

St.Serapion     St. Peter Paschal   St. Mary de Cervellon  St. Raymond Nonnnatus

Peter Armengol

 

St. Mary of Cervellon–Formed the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom and is the Patroness of those Shipwrecked

Mary of Cervellon  wikipedia.org

By  Larry Peterson

She was born sometime in 1230, some think around December 1, and was baptized on December 8* in Santa Maria del Mar parish in Barcelona. Her name was Mary de Cervellon, and she was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, William de Cervellon.

As a young woman, Mary began working in Saint Eulalia Hospital tending to the sick, the poor and also those who were prisoners. One day she heard a sermon given by Bernard de Corbarie, who was the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mercedarians. 

She was so moved by what she heard she vowed right then and there to do all she could to help alleviate the suffering and misery experienced by those who were prisoners of the Muslim Turks. Working at the hospital, Mary was able to come in contact with the great leaders of the Mercedarian order, including the order’s founder, St. Peter Nolasco.

Inspired by these pious people Mary, in the year, 1265, joined a small group of women who lived near the monastery. These ladies spent their lives in constant prayer and doing good works for those in need.

In due time the women asked for and received permission to form the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the normal three vows of poverty,  chastity, and obedience they also vowed to pray for all Christian slaves. They were all given permission to wear the white habit of the Mercedarians and Sister Mary de Cervellon was elected their first Mother Superior. Sister Mary had such an empathy and devotion to the poor and needy that soon she began to be called Maria de Socros  (Mary of Help).

Mary de Cervellon passed away on Septemeber 19, 1290. During Mary’s life and after her death, there were people who swore that they saw Mary literally on the “wings of the wind”, reaching down and saving floundering ships from rough seas so they might stay their course and continue on their journey to free Christian prisoners from the Muslims.

A great devotion grew in her honor and it was given approval by Pope Innocent XII in 1692. She is the Patroness  of those shipwrecked and paintings of Mary show her with a ship cradled in her arms as she saves it from the roaring seas around it.

Mary de Cervellon’s body lies incorrupt to this very day in the Mercedarian Basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

St. Mary de Cervellon, please pray for us all.

 

The Wonderful Legend of St. Peter Paschal

Peter Paschal with a young Jesus as Altar Boy
aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Peter Paschal, was born in Valencia on Spain’s east coast, in the year 1227. Peter’s parents were devout Mozarabs (Iberian Christians) who managed to live under Muslim rule. They did this by paying a yearly tax, known as a jizyah. This tax was even collected as a means of sparing the life of certain non-Muslims living in the community depending upon whether or not the ruling Imam decided a certain person deserved death. The Mozarabs and the Muslim Arabs co-existed and even spoke a similar language known as Mozarabic.

The founder of the Mercedarians, St. Peter Nolasco,  was very good friends with Peter’s family and he and his Mercedarian companions would oftentimes stay at Peter’s home when they were on a mission to free Christian captives. This exposure to these pious men helped to instill in young Peter a deep sense of piety. Combined with the virtuous, charitable and caring influence of his parents, Peter Paschal, grew into a deeply devoted servant of God.

Ironically, the primary influence in Peter’s educational journey was a teacher that Peter’s parents had ransomed from the Muslim Moors years before. The young man traveled with him to Paris and, under his guidance, studied, preached and taught, developing a fine reputation as a learned and pious man.

Peter then returned to Valencia and Peter Nolasco became his spiritual advisor. After another year of preparation, he became a full member of The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, aka Mercedarians. It was time for him to begin redeeming captive Christians.

Peter Paschal had a brilliant mind and James I, the King of Aragon, appointed him as a preceptor (teacher) of his son, Sanchez. Sanchez was so influenced by Peter that he himself became a Mercedarian priest and, in 1262, was made the Archbishop of Toledo. Since Prince Sanchez was too young to be consecrated, his teacher, Peter Paschal, was appointed to govern the diocese and was consecrated as the Bishop of Granada, which was under the control of the Muslims.

As Bishop of Grenada, Peter Paschal, preached tirelessly about Christianity. He became known for his intense determination and zeal in redeeming captive, Christian slaves who had been imprisoned by the Moors. His preaching was so potent that many Muslims began to embrace the doctrines of Jesus Christ and convert to Christianity. The followers of Mahomet (commonly referred to as Mohammad) began to harbor an intense and growing anger toward Peter.

Besides preaching, Peter not only continually ransomed captive Christians from the Moors, he also comforted those imprisoned and preached the gospel to the infidels. His ability to reconcile apostates and others and bring them to the church was the reason he was finally arrested and placed in a dark dungeon. Orders were given that no one was allowed to speak to Peter Paschal.

Peter was held in prison and constantly treated cruelly and with disdain. But, strange as it may seem, he was given permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day. And this is where the wonderful legend of St. Peter Paschal springs to life.

One morning, while preparing for Mass, Peter realized he had no altar server. He usually was able to have one of the prisoners he had converted serve for him. But this day he could find no one to serve. Suddenly, a little boy about the age of five appeared before the priest. The boy was dressed in the clothes of a slave and asked Peter what he was looking for. Peter told him he needed an altar server.

The boy told Bishop Peter he would gladly serve Mass for him if he would let him. Peter asked him who he was and the boy said, “I will tell you who I am when you have finished Mass.”

After Mass was finished, Peter asked the boy a few questions and was amazed at the wisdom coming forth from the child. Then he asked the boy, “Tell me, who is Jesus Christ?”

The boy answered: “I am Jesus Christ; it is I Who was crucified for your salvation and for that of the whole world; look at My hands, and My feet, and My side, and you will recognize the wounds I received during My passion. Because you have of your own choice remained a prisoner in order to procure freedom for my captive children, and because, to obtain their freedom, you spent money sent to procure your own, you have made Me your prisoner.”

As mysteriously as He had appeared, the little boy disappeared. Peter Paschal was filled with an indescribable joy he could never have imagined. Jesus, as a little boy, had been the Bishop’s altar server.

The Muslims sensed and actually revered the sanctity of their prisoner. They told him if he would never say anything against Mohammad they would give him his freedom. He said he could never make such a promise. Shortly thereafter, as Bishop Peter Paschal was saying his Thanksgiving after Mass, a Muslim executioner came up from behind him and cut off his head.   The date was January 6, 1300.

Bishop Peter Paschal was beatified and canonized by Pope Clement X on August 14, 1670.

St. Peter Paschal–please pray for us.

 

 

My Life for Your Freedom—The Mercedarians Practice What They Preach: One of Them is St. Serapion of Algiers

St. Serapion of Algiers—en.wikimedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Several years ago a newly ordained Mercedarian priest was assigned to our parish. Father Scott Brentwood was 31 years old and showed up wearing the traditional habit of his order. The habit was all white and, as Father walked toward his new parish, watching him approach was like taking a peek into the middle ages. It was an awesome sight to behold!

Father Scott has since moved on, and we had another newly ordained Mercedarian replace him, Father Daniel Bowen. Before continuing, I will just say this; as a cradle Catholic who grew up in the 50s and 60s if these two priests are representative of the future of our Church, that future is as brilliant as an ascending morning sun.

The Mercedarians were founded by St. Peter Nolasco in the year 1218. Moved by direct inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary, his purpose in founding the new order was to free or redeem Christian captives from Muslim captors. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Mercedarians take a fourth vow; they promise to  give themselves up for someone in danger of losing their faith, up to and including sacrificing their own lives. One of these courageous priests was St. Serapion of Algiers.

Serapion was born in 1179 in either England or Ireland. When he was a boy, his father took him along on the Crusades led by King Richard the Lion-Heart. When he was 12 years old, he participated in the Battle of Acre in 1191.   Then he met Peter Nolasco, who preached the mercy of God and did so by freeing Christian slaves from their Moorish captors. Serapion realized that his life was meant to save lives, not to take them.

In 1222, Serapion became a full member of the Mercedarian order. He made several missions of mercy in northern Africa before being sent to England to recruit new members. During the journey, his ship was attacked by pirates, and he was left for dead. However, he survived and eventually made it to England. He began preaching against the theft of church property and was ordered to leave the country.

In 1240, Serapion had gone to Algiers to secure the release of 87 Christian captives. The ransom he had brought with him suddenly was not enough. The captors demanded more than Serapion had. When some of the prisoners heard this, they began to consider rejecting their Christian faith to save themselves. Serapion would not allow this to happen. He offered himself to the Moors in exchange for the prisoner’s freedom. This was agreed upon, and Serapion watched as the prisoners were freed. He then knew it was time for him to begin preaching the love of God to his new captors.

Serapion had turned his very life over to his captors. Undaunted by his natural fear he preached the love of God and the gospel message to the Muslims. Many began to respond to his message. However, as his brother Mercedarians hurried throughout Europe in the hope of gathering the extra ransom demanded, Serapion, was making some hard-hearted enemies. The Muslim leaders who realized this Catholic/Christian man was starting to convert his listeners, turned against him.

Since the ransom had yet to arrive Serapion was ordered put to death. The man who simply wanted to preach the message of the God of Love was crucified on an X shaped cross. While still alive he was dismembered. The pain he endured must have been beyond description. Serapion died the proto-martyr of Algiers. Like his brother Mercedarians, St. Raymond Nonnatus and St. Peter Armengol, Serapion gave all he had, including his life, for the love of God.

Serapion was beatified in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII and canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XIII in 1728.  We ask St. Serapion of Algiers and all his brother Mercedarian saints, to pray for us all.

Today, the Mercedarians aka Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, are a worldwide organization and they still are rescuing people from attacks on their faith. They are located in 17 countries, and their student house is in Philadelphia. They can be found working in deprived neighborhoods, in hospitals among drug addicts and with families through parish work. The Mercedarians are a shining example to all Catholic/Christians the world over.

This link  Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy aka Mercedarians will direct you to the Mercedarian website. Please take a look.

St. Serapion of Algiers, please pray for us ALL.