It’s fascinating that when we talk about the Virgin Mary, there are so many different titles in which we use: Mother of God, Queen of Angels, Holy Virgin. They are all so beautiful, and truly encompass the miraculous gift of her love.

One of my favorite names is Our Lady of Mercy. As the eighth president of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, this name is very dear to me. 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 Middle Ages, Christians were at war with the Muslims, and many found themselves in captivity. Subjected to terrible conditions, some Christians were forced to deny their faith. But a merchant by the name of St. Peter Nolasco travelled 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 trades places with those in captivity.

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.

“Mary is the mother of mankind – she watches over us, protects us, and cares for us.”

No matter how dire our circumstances seem, she is always with us. And in inspiring the Mercedarians, she asks us to humbly give of ourselves to help others in need. When I think of origins of the Mercedarians, I can’t help but think of the mission of Mercy Home.

Many of our children come from situations where they have felt trapped by elements such as poverty and violence. Some of them 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.

As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, I encourage you to think about the 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.
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