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Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady of Mercy), Barcelona, Spain

Commemorated on August 1, September 24
Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady of Mercy), Barcelona, Spain The Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Pennafort, and to King James of Aragon, and through these three men established a work of the redemption of captives. She desired the establishment of the Mercedarian religious order. (derives from the Spanish word for mercy - merced) Its members would seek to free Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as an exchange.

History

Timeline
 
1189
 
Saint Peter Nolasco is born at Mas-des-Saintes-Puelles, near Castelnaudary, Languedoc, France.
 
1214
 
At the age of twenty-five he took a vow of chastity and signed over his vast estates to the Church.
 
August 1, 1218
 
The Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Pennafort, and to the king, and through these three men established a work of the redemption of captives. She desired the establishment of the Mercedarian religious order. (derives from the Spanish word for mercy - merced) Its members would seek to free Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as an exchange. The complete name of this order is: Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Ransom of Captives (OdeM).
 
August 10, 1218
 
The king went to the cathedral for a Mass celebrated by the bishop of Barcelona. Saint Raymund went up into the pulpit and narrated his vision. The king sought the blessing of the bishop for the plan, and the bishop bestowed the habit on Saint Peter and two others, who vowed to give themselves as a hostage if necessary.
 
Jan 17, 1235
 
The Order was legally constituted at Barcelona by King James of Aragon was established in Spain and later approved by Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. St. Peter was the first superior, with the title of Commander-General; he also filled the office of Ransomer, a title given to the monk sent into the lands subject to the Moors to arrange for the ransom of prisoners.
 
1249
 
St. Peter resigned his superiorship; he was succeeded by Guillaume Le Bas.
 
Dec 25, 1258
 
St. Peter dies.
 
April 4, 1615
 
A feast day was instituted and observed on September 24th, first in the Mercedarian Order, then everywhere in Spain and France.
 
Sept 30, 1628
 
Pope Urban VIII canonized St. Peter Nolasco
 
1687
 
A plague of locusts was banished from Barcelona through the intercession of the Virgin of Mercy, and the miracle has been celebrated ever since – with Barcelona's biggest and noisiest of festivals.
 
Feb 22, 1696
 
The feast day (Sept 24) was finally extended to the entire Church by Innocent XII.
 
1730
 
Our Lady of Ransom was proclaimed "Patroness of the Peruvian Lands" and in 1823 "Patroness of the Armies of the Republic."
 
Sept 24, 1921
 
On the first centennial of the nation's independence, the image was solemnly crowned and received the title of "Grand Marshall of Peru" on the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, since then declared a national holiday, when every year the army renders homage to her high military rank.
 
The name for the Marian commemoration on September 24 was changed to 'Our Lady of Mercy' after Vatican II.

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In early August of 1218, St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Penafort, and James, King of Aragon, each had a vision of the Virgin Mary asking them to found a religious order devoted to freeing Christian captives from the Muslims, who still held much of Spain. The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy grew quickly, collecting alms for ransom and sometimes offering themselves in exchange for prisoners. The statue of the Mother of God of Mercy in Barcelona (right) dates from the 1300s. She became the city's patron saint after saving it from a plague of locusts in 1687. Before the counter-reformation, the Mercedarian Order celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Ransom on August 1, the date when she showed St. Peter Nolasco their white habit. The Vatican changed the date to September 24 when it extended the feast to the entire Church in 1696. Since Vatican II, Catholic observance of Our Lady of Mercy's day is limited to places and organizations that claim her as patron. Meanwhile, the Mercedarians have changed their mission to teaching and chaplaincy, and the Barcelona soccer team visits the Basilica of La Mercè after victories in thanks for her help. Her fiesta in Barcelona is a spectacular sequence of processions, dances, music, games, and fireworks. (Information from "Festa de la Mare de Déu de la Mercè," Arquebisbat de Barcelona, www.arqbcn.org/merce/index.htm. Image from www.tiempodepoesia.org.)  

Source: http://www.wherewewalked.info/feasts/09-September/september_24.htm 
 

Description

She is dressed all in white: over her long tunic she wears a scapular with the shield of the order imprinted breast high. A cloak covers her shoulders and her long hair is veiled by a fine lace mantilla. Some images have her standing, with the child in her arms, or carrying two bags of coins for use in ransoming Christians imprisoned by Moors. In yet others he is shown with her arms extended showing a royal scepter in her right hand and in the left some open chains, a symbol of liberation.

Approval

No formal investigation was performed by the Church to confirm this apparition. The Order of Mercedarians was approved by Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. A feast day was instituted and observed on September 24th, first in this Order of Our Lady, then everywhere in Spain and France. It was finally extended to the entire Church by Innocent XII.

Prayers

ur Lady of Mercy 
 
Mother of Mercy! Virgin Mary blest
Within whose chaste, young bosom hearts find peace
And finding, know the real content of Rest;
The utter fullness that need never cease
Once one has known the safety of this breast;
Once and then many times when one has erred
And seeks mongst men a pity in the face;
An understanding in the stead of squared
Contempt blunt-meted out from every place.
 
To whom, then, can we turn and quickly go
Assured of mercy and the mother-strength
To lift us up! To whom, then, can we show
The contrite heart; the firm resolve at length
To keep our equilibrium of soul?
.... oh, foolish question uttered by all men
While Mary's heart-pulse throbs to be their goal
And bleeds its mercy ever and again!
 
Peg Du Bal
Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.

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