Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Order of the Blessed Virgin of Mary of Mercy

ZURBARÁN, Francisco de
(b. 1598, Fuente de Cantos, d. 1664, Madrid)
The Vision of St Peter of Nolasco
Oil on canvas, 179 x 223 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The painting and its companion-piece was commissioned by the Mercedarian Monastery in Seville shortly after the canonization of Pedro Nolasco

In his vision Peter of Nolasco, in the white robe of his Order, sees the New Jerusalem shown by an angel. The heavenly city with its tower resembles contemporary Avila.

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (or the Order of Merced or Mercedarians or the Order of Captives) was one of many dozens of associations that sprang up in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries as institutions of charitable works. The work of the Mercedarians was in ransoming impoverished captive Christians held in Muslim hands, especially along the frontier that the crown of Aragon shared with Muslim Spain.

Founded by St Peter Nolasco [Pedro Nolasco] (1189 – 1256)

On August 10, 1218, the new Religious Order for the Redemption of Captives was officially and solemnly constituted at the main altar erected over Saint Eulalia’s tomb in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (also known as the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia) in Barcelona

Some Orders and Congregations, besides the three vows of religion, add particular vows.

These additional vows are part of the nature of the profession of each Order and are permitted by the Church. They can be solemn or simple, perpetual or temporary. The Fourth Vow of the Order of Mercy is a Solemn Vow.

In the First Constitutions of the Order, the Amerian Constitutions (1272), the Fourth Vow was: "... 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..."

In the Acquarian Constitutions (1986), the Fourth Vow is : "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."


Homepage for the Order of Our Lady of Mercy in the United States

James William Brodman, 1986. Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain:The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier

Order of Mercy- Houses

Curia Provincial - Madrid -

Revista "Caminos de liberacion" - Madrid -

Parroquia S. M. Cervellon - Madrid

Catholic Encyclopedia: Mercedarians