The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Mercy” has its origin from the Order of Our Lady of Mercy. The Order was founded in 1218 for the ministry of redeeming captives, a work of great mercy, and has always attributed to Mary a special role in its foundation. For this reason, Saint Peter Nolasco, the founder, dedicated the first church in her honor in 1249.
Devotion to Our Lady of Mercy in the Americas can trace its roots to the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, who was accompanied by Mercedarian Father John Solorzano. Thus began a strong missionary apostolate for the Order which sought to proclaim the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.
Mercedarians through the centuries have seen in Mary the prototype of that freedom and truth accomplished for us by Jesus in the merciful work of our Redemption. By looking upon Mary as the true follower of her son, we understand more fully the freedom in her words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
And in the words of the Magnificat, we recognize the liberating mission of Jesus, reflected in the prayerful song of His Mother: “His mercy is from age to age…He has lifted up the lowly, the hungry He has filled with good things.”
And thus Mary stands at the foot of His cross, hearing the words Jesus addresses to Saint Johnand to ourselves; “Behold your Mother.” This is why we revere her and why we invoke her assistance, using the words of the Salve Regina: “To you do we cry, poor banished children…in your mercy hear and answer us.”