Tag Archives: Mercedarians

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.

St. Mary of Cervellon: with Hurricane Irma fast approaching we should ask St. Mary of Cervellon for her Help and Protection

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

 

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. 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.

 

At this very moment in time, a massive hurricane named, Irma, is talking dead aim at our homes in Florida and the Caribbean. The seas beneath Irma have turned into monstrous, walls of pounding destruction. Since St. Mary de Cervellon,  is the patroness of sailors and invoked especially against shipwreck, she is generally represented with a ship in her hand. We might invoke her name and ask her to help quell the pounding seas or maybe help divert Hurricane Irma in a diiferent direction. We could really use her help.

 

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

 

*the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed until  Pope Pius IX did so in 1854.