Q: Describe the origins of Mary's title: Our Lady of Ransom.

A: Our Lady of Ransom is a Marian title commemorating the foundation of the Mercedarian religious order by St. Peter Nolasco in 1218. This name derives from the Spanish word for mercy: merced. The complete name of this order is: Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Ransom of Captives (OdeM). St. Peter Nolasco founded the order in response to a request made by the Blessed Virgin during an apparition on August 1, 1218. Members of this order took a special vow to act as hostages, if necessary, to free Christian captives whose faith was in danger from the Moors. This was important at the time of the Crusades, but has since been adapted to changing historical circumstances. Today, the main thrust of the Mercedarians' apostolate is Reconciliation.

The Mercedarians in Barcelona once commemorated this apparition on the first Sunday after September 24. Our Lady of Ransom is the principal Patroness of Barcelona. In 1696, the feast of Our Lady of Ransom was placed on the calendar for the entire Latin Church at September 24. The name for the Marian commemoration on September 24 was changed to 'Our Lady of Mercy' after Vatican II.


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