The title of “Our Lady of Mercy” is almost 900 years old. Tradition holds that around the year 1218 AD, both St. Peter Nolasco and King James I of Aragon and Catalonia experienced separate apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary requesting them to establish a religious order entrusted with the responsibility of rescuing the many Christians who were being held captive by the Moorish armies who invaded the Iberian peninsula. In 1235 AD, the Order of Our Lady of Mercy received papal approval as a military order by Pope Gregory IX, and succeeded in liberating thousands of Christian prisoners from captivity. The Order was later able to shift its mission toward education and social work.
The image of the Blessed Mother as Virgin of Mercy is also extremely popular in the South American nation of Peru. In the 17th century, Mary’s image as Virgin of Mercy was enthroned in the Basilica of Mercy in the capital city of Lima, where Mary is honored as the city’s Patroness. In 1730 AD, Our Lady of Mercy was proclaimed Patroness of all of Peru, and September 24, 1921 marked the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, which is declared a national holiday in Peru.
Today, the Virgin Mother is honored under the title of “Our Lady of Mercy” throughout the world by countless parishes, schools and hospitals who embrace her as their Patroness.