St. Peter Nolasco Founded the Mercedarians
St. Peter Nolasco founded the Order of Our Lady of Mercy
after he received a vision from the Blessed Virgin telling
him to gather men of courage. The order is also known
as the Mercedarians or the Order of Our Lady of Ransom.
Today the Mercedarians work in hospitals, assisting
the patients, education, prisons, and foreign missions
preaching the Gospel. When St. Peter Nolasco first founded
the order, however, it was called the Order of Our Lady
of Ransom. This was because the order was dedicated
to freeing captive Christians who were held as slaves
The efforts of St. Peter Nolasco and the Mercedarians
freed hundreds of Christian slaves. In fact, St. Peter
was twice kept as a slave, giving himself in ransom
for other Christians.
The Fourth Vow of Mercedarians
Most religious orders make three vows of poverty, chastity,
and obedience. St. Peter Nolasco's Order of Mercy take
a fourth vow. The fourth vow is stated differently depending
upon the time the order was founded and its location
but all the vows are solemn.
* 1272 (American Constitutions) "... 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..."
* 1327 (Albertine Constitutions) "Surrender of
one's life as hostage in Saracen Territory."
* 1588 (Zumelian Constitutions) "I will be obedient
to you and your successors up to death; and I will remain
in person in the power of the Saracens if it be necessary
for the Redemption of Christ's Faithful."
* 1692 (Madrilene and Roman Constitutions) "Therefore,
we must understand in the first place, that all our
religious are committed to the Redemption of Captives
in such a way that they must not only always be disposed
to carry it out in fact if the Order sends them, but
also to collect alms, or if the prelates do select them,
to do whatever else may be necessary for the act of
redemption to be carried out."
* 1970 (Contitutions and Norms) "The Mercedarian,
urged by Charity, dedicated himself to God by a particular
vow in virtue of which he promises to give his own life,
if it will be necessary, as Christ did for us, to free
from the new forms of slavery the Christians who are
in danger of losing their Faith."
* 1986 (Acquarian Contitutions) "In order to fulfill
this mission we, impelled by love, consecrate ourselves
to God with a special vow, by virtue of which we promise
to give up our lives, as Christ gave his life for us,
should it be necessary, in order to save those Christians
who find themselves in extreme danger of losing their
faith by new forms of captivity."
St. Peter Nolasco Honored
Today's Catholics honor St. Peter Nolasco as founder
of the Order of Mercy and for his personal sacrifices
to free Christian slaves. Many Catholics wear a St.
Peter Nolasco medal, a St. Peter Nolasco pendant, or
a St. Peter Nolasco medallion as a reminder of his mission.
Wearing the St. Peter Nolasco necklace helps believers
live a life of sacrifice for their fellow Christians
and a life of Christ.