Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Today, September 24, in many parts of the world, the Catholic Church commemorates the feast of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Our Lady of Mercy or Nuestra Señora de la Merced.
The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1218 in three separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Penafort, and King James I of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens or Moors, who at that time held a great part of Spain.
On August 10, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom (first known as the Order of St. Eulalia, now known as the Mercedarian Order), with the members granted the privilege of wearing his own arms on their breast. Most of the members were knights, and while the clerics recited the divine office in the commanderies, they guarded the coasts and delivered prisoners. This pious work spread everywhere and produced heroes of charity who collected alms for the ransom of Christians, and often gave themselves up in exchange for Christian prisoners.
Our Lady of Ransom is the patroness of Barcelona and Spain. She is also the patroness of people named Clemency, Mercedes, Mercedez, Merced or Mercy.
Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom
Merciful Father and God of all consolation,
you have shown yourself
to be wonderful in the glorious Virgin Mary,
Mother of Christ, and have given her to us
as the Mother of Mercy.
May all of us who venerate her with devotion,
always experience her powerful intercession,
and enjoy Your immense mercy.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
The Crown of Twelve Stars of Our Lady of Mercy
The "Crown of Twelve Stars of Our Lady of Mercy" is an ancient devotion of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy based on the Book of Revelation (12:1): "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." It is prayed on a chaplet. The chaplet consists in a medal, five Our Father beads and three sets of four beads each where the Hail Mary is prayed in honor of Our Lady's Crown of Excellence. The chaplet ends with a Glory be.