Our Lady of Ransom with her holy Mercedarian sons
under her blue mantle
under her blue mantle
Between 1200 till the 1800s, more than 1.2 million European Christians were kidnapped and enslaved by Muslims.
Muslims landed on European soil, raided towns, and then enslaved Europeans. Attacks fell on most Mediterranean countries: Italy, Spain, France, Portugal. However, they also attacked England, Ireland, Scotland, and even Iceland. Even Thomas Jefferson showed concern about these raids as they might extend to the New World.
As Americans, we think of slavery in terms of African slaves on American soil. Yet during these centuries, there were blond and blued slaves, Italian slaves, and Spanish slaves living in servitude in cities such as Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis. Even St Vincent de Paul was a slave under a Mohammedan master.
Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, always cares for her children. Marian apparitions are always moments of maternal care for her children. This is why she appeared on September 24 in AD 1223 and asked for a special order be founded to redeem Christian slaves.
St. Peter Nolasco received this message from the Immaculate Mary and set to work. His spiritual director St Raymond of Pennafort and his temporal lord King James of Spain also received the message from Our Lady. With their aide, St. Peter Nolasco founded the Mercedarians with approval of King James and Pope Gregory IX. They took up the Rule of Saint Augustine (like the Dominicans did). Mary showed him a white habit, which the Mercederians took as their habit.
These holy religious men made a fourth vow to offer their own persons in exchange for Christian slaves. They would willingly trade themselves for other Christians. These men were fervent and proficient Christians in the way of divine charity.
It is estimated that these holy Mercedarians redeemed 900,000 Christian slaves from the Mohammedans from 1224 till 1787. That is an amazing amount of mercy. This alone is an argument for the truth of Christianity!
So don't worry about threats to the Church. Mary love us. She is our mother. She will intervene and help us. If we fall under attack again (well, we already are), then she will intervene for us. Christ is the King of Mercy. She is the Queen of Mercy.
Our Lady of Ransom, pray for us.
HT: Fr Phil Wolfe