The meaning of the celebration
+ Devotion to Mary under the title “Our Lady of Mercy” originated with the Mercedarian Order and the apparitions of Our Lady of Ransom.
+ Tradition relates that the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Peter Nolasco, who would go on to found the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, in 1218. In this vision, she affirmed Peter’s desire to establish a new religious family that would be dedicated to ransoming Christians who had been enslaved by the Moors.
+ In time, the Mercedarians added a distinctive fourth vow (in addition to their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience) to die, if necessary, for the sake of one who is in danger of losing their faith.
+ Today, devotion to Mary under the title “Our Lady of Mercy” remains a poignant reminder of the dangers faced by oppressed Christians and of Mary’s maternal intercession and protection.
For prayer and reflection
“Praise the Lord our God, for in Mary his handmaid he has fulfilled his promise of mercy to the house of Israel.”—Communion Antiphon from the Common of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary
through your infinite mercy
and under the patronage of the Mother of your Son,
you raised up a family of religious
who, in imitation of Christ the Redeemer,
offered even themselves for the redemption of slaves.
Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother,
the inspirer of this work,
may we dedicate our lives to promote true freedom
for all people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Adapted from the Proper Office of the Mercedarians)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.