Find me other men like yourself, an army of brave, generous, unselfish men, and send them into lands where the children of the Faith are suffering. So said Our Blessed Lady to St. Peter Nolasco, a tireless worker for Our Lord ransoming Christians from the hands of their Muslim enslavers – the Moors and the Sarasens. Dressed in white with a shield of the Order imprinted on her scapular, Our Lady asked St. Peter, along with St. Raymond of Pennafort and King James of Aragon to establish a religious order dedicated to visiting Christians in captivity and working to free them from their bondage. The order was founded, The Mercedarians, and Pope Gregory approved it in 1235. St. Peter was the first superior. An ancillary group of the Order were knights who bought back slaves or traded places with them to secure their release. The Mercedarian Order continues to this day seeking to help God’s people be released from the physical and spiritual chains that hold them back from the abundant life of Jesus Christ. This apparition of Our Lady is also known as Our Lady of Ransom.
Consider the words Our Lady spoke to St. Peter Nolasco. To what extent do you see yourself as brave, generous and unselfish? To which “lands” might she be sending you? Who might the “captives” be that she is asking you to release? Where, in your own midst, are the “children of the Faith suffering?” What is your response to Our Lady’s call?