The Feast of Our Lady of Mercy
It’s fascinating that when we talk about the Virgin Mary, we use so many different titles: Mother of God, Queen of Angels, Holy Virgin. They are all so beautiful, and truly encompass the miraculous gift of her love.
The name Our Lady of Mercy is very dear to Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. More than 130 years ago, Mercy Home was first established as the Mission of Our Lady of Mercy. Our founder, so moved by her image, vowed to live by her example—and that’s a promise our Mercy Home family still upholds today.
Mary is the mother of mankind – she watches over us, protects us, and cares for us. She gave birth to Jesus, who embodied God’s mercy for us. As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, we honor the origins of the Mercedarians, and the inspiration Our Lady of Mercy had on the founding of this religious order.
During the Crusades of the Middle Ages, some Christians who were captured in Muslim territories were forced to deny their faith. But a merchant by the name of St. Peter Nolasco traveled throughout Spain and used his inheritance to free these Christians from captivity.
On August 1, 1218, Our Lady of Mercy appeared before Nolasco in a vision. Dressed in white, she held two bags of coins to be used for ransoming Christians in captivity. She appeared before St. Raymond of Pennafort and King James of Aragon as well and asked all three to start a religious order that would free Christians who had been seized during the wars.
Shortly after, they founded the order of Our Lady of Mercy, or the Mercedarians. As the order grew, they raised money and freed Christians from captivity. In addition to vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Mercedarians took a fourth vow: to die for another who is in danger of losing their faith. The Mercedarians even traded places with those in captivity.
Mary is the mother of mankind – she watches over us, protects us, and cares for us.
The Mercedarians still do incredible work to this day helping Christians in difficult situations to maintain their faith. The founding of the Mercedarians is such a beautiful story, and really demonstrates the love and compassion that Our Lady of Mercy has for us.
No matter how dire our circumstances seem, Our Lady of Mercy is always with us. And in inspiring the Mercedarians, she asks us to humbly give of ourselves to help others in need. When thinking of the origins of the Mercedarians, it’s easy to also think of the mission of Mercy Home.
Many of our children have felt trapped by situations such as poverty and violence. Some of them have lost hope and wanted to give up. But like Our Lady of Mercy taught St. Peter Nolasco, we offer our help in freeing these children from challenging circumstances in order to restore their hope for a better future.
As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, consider ways you can give of yourself to help those who may be trapped by difficult circumstances and losing their faith. And if you yourself are struggling through personal challenges – always remember that Our Lady of Mercy is watching over you, protecting you, and offering her eternal love.
May God continue to bless you and keep you safe.