St. Peter Nolasco

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St. Peter Nolasco

Born at Mas-des-Saintes-Puelles, near Castelnaudary, France, in 1189 (or 1182); died at Barcelona, on Christmas Day, 1256 (or 1259). He was of a noble family and from his youth was noted for his piety, almsgiving, and charity. Having given all his possessions to the poor, he took a vow of virginity and, to avoid communication with the Albigenses, went to Barcelona.

At that time the Moors were masters of a great part of the Iberian peninsula, and many Christians were detained there and cruelly persecuted on account of the Faith. Peter ransomed many of these and in doing so consumed all his patrimony. After mature deliberation, moved also by a heavenly vision, he resolved to found a religious order (1218), similar to that established a few years before by St. John de Matha and St. Felix de Valois, whose chief object would be the redemption of Christian slaves.

In this he was encouraged by St. Raymond Penafort and James I, King of Aragon, who, it seems, had been favoured with the same inspiration. The institute was called Mercedarians and was solemnly approved by Gregory IX, in 1230. Its members were bound by a special vow to employ all their substance for the redemption of captive Christians, and if necessary, to remain in captivity in their stead. At first most of these religious were laymen as was Peter himself. But Clement V decreed that the master general of the order should always be a priest.


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At that time: Jesus said unto his disciples: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. And so on, and that which followeth. Luke : 12, 32-34

A Homily by
St. Venerable Bede the Priest

The elect are called a little flock. Perchance this is because the reprobate are the big flock. But more probably it is because the elect seek to be lowly.
Certain it is that God would have his Church, howsoever it may grow in numbers, always to grow in lowliness even unto the end of the world. For only by humility can the Church attain that kingdom which is by promise. Hence to give comfort in time of travail, for which reason he hath commanded us to seek only the kingdom of God, he sweetly and graciously saith that the Father will give the kingdom to his little flock.

Sell that ye have and give alms. That is to say: Have no fear that such things as are needful for this life be lacking to you whilst ye fight for the kingdom of God. Nay rather, sell even that which ye have, and give alms. For a man doeth well when for the Lord's sake he leaveth all that he hath, and then giveth himself to a life of work with his own hands, that so he may gain a livelihood, and have something more to give away as alms. In this doth the Apostle boast himself, saying: I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel: yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me: in all things I gave you an example, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak.

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