Feast of Our Lady of Ransom

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Maria de Mercede, fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio, ca1472

The Feast of Our Lady of Ransom is a Roman Catholic liturgical Marian feast. In the General Roman Calendar of 1960, it was celebrated on 24 September, commemorating the foundation of the Mercedarians. Nowadays it is not included in the General Roman calendar, but is only celebrated at certain places and in the order of the Mercedarians.


In 1218 Peter Nolasco was inspired to establish a religious order for the redemption of captives seized by the Moors in Spain and on the seas.[1] On 10 August 1223, the Mercedarian Order was legally constituted at Barcelona by King James of Aragon and was approved by Pope Gregory IX on 17 January 1235.


A feast day was instituted and observed on 24 September, first in the religious order, then in Spain and France, and on 22 February 1696 Innocent XII extended it to the entire Church.[1]

But the calendar of the Spanish Mercedarians of 1644 has it on 1 August, as a double. Proper lessons were approved on 30 April 1616. The feast was granted to Spain (on the Sunday nearest to 1 August) on 15 February 1680, and to France, on 4 December 1690. On 22 February 1696, it was extended to the entire Latin Church, and the date changed to 24 September.[2]

The Mercedarians keep this feast as a double of the first class, with a vigil, privileged octave, and proper Office under the title: "Solemnitas Descensionis B. Mariæ V. de Mercede".[2]

In August 1805 Sicily, which had suffered so much from the Saracens, was given permission by the Congregation of Rites to observe the commemoration of the "Apparition of Our Lady to St. Peter Nolasco in the choir of Barcelona" on the old date of the feast (Sunday nearest to 1 August). In England the devotion to Our Lady of Ransom was revived in modern times in recognition of its historic title as Our Lady's Dowry.[3]


Our Lady of Ransom is the principal patron of Barcelona, Spain [1] and Mercedes, Catbalogan in the Philippines.

Crown of Twelve Stars of Our Lady of Mercy[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]