Mercedarians

The Order of Our Lady of Mercy, derived from the Spanish word merced (“mercy”) and known also by other names, was founded in 1218 by Peter Nolasco to attend the sick and rescue Christian captives from the Moors. Their white habit facilitated entrance into Muslim territories; and following the Austin Rule, they took a fourth vow pledging themselves as hostages when needed, thus liberating some 70,000. They spread through Europe to the Americas, changing from a military to a clerical order (1319) and becoming mendicant. A post-Reformation discalced* group arose, and though major setbacks came during the nineteenth century, the order was revived under Valenzuela in the 1880s. Parishes, charities, schools, and chaplaincies occupy them, and there are congregations of women.