Today is the feast of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mother of Mercy. Established in the 1200s, this feast commemorates the apparition of Mary to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort and James, king of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the Moors.
The order founded by King James of Aragon came to be called the Mercedarians, and is still active today. Here's an excerpt from the CatholicCulture.com page:
The Order of Our Lady of Ransom, called the Mercedarians, and founded by St. Peter Nolasco, ransomed 490,736 slaves between the years 1218 and 1632. St. Vincent de Paul, a slave himself, led his priests to save 1200 Christian captives in the short period between 1642 and 1660 at the staggering cost of 1,200,000 pounds of silver. An even greater achievement was the conversion of thousands in captivity, and steeling them against the sufferings of a cruel martyrdom for the faith.
Mary, Our Lady of Ransom and Mother of Mercy,
help us to work for the freedom of today's captives!
Our Lady of Ransom, please pray for us.
HT: Michele Q. at Family-Centered Learning for the mention in the Catholic Daily Planner of this little-known Marian Feast!