St. Peter Nolasco
Peter Nolasco was born in either 1182 or 1189 near Castelnaudary, France to a noble family. He was known for his charity and piety from an early age. After giving his possessions to the poor, he took a vow of virginity and went to Barcelona. Here he ransomed many Christians being held captive by the Moors in Africa. In 1218 he founded the Mercedarians, a religious order dedicated to the ransom of captive Christians. Members vowed to spend all they had to ransom captives and if needed, to offer themselves as hostages in exchange for the captives. St. Raymond Penafort encouraged Peter in his efforts. The Mercedarian order was officially approved by the Church in 1230. Twice Peter gave himself as a ransom to free Christian slaves in Africa, once winning the release of 400 captives. In the last years of his life, he retired to live in solitude and prayer. He died on Christmas Day, 1258. St. Peter Nolasco’s feast is on January 28.