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Write the second section of your page here. The Order of Mercy ( Mercedarian) was founded in Barcelona Spain on 10th August 1218 by St Peter Nolasco ( 1189-1256) following a vision of the Virgin Mary who tasked him with freeing Christian slaves held by the Muslims. He received recognition and support from King James of Aragon and the Order started life as a Military Order of Knights and clerics with a mission to ransom, or rescue, by military means, Christian slaves held in Moorish Spain. St Raymond de Penaforte wrote the Orders rule based on the rule of St Augustine. King James gave the Knights quarters in his palace where they were regarded as a semi-royal order. Pope Gregory 1X approved the order by a Papal Bull on 17th January 1235. The first knights took their vows in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Barcelona. The Knights fought the Moors as a company within the royal army and were present at the surrender of Seville and other battles. The order freed over 2600 slaves during St Peter Nolasco's lifetime. St Mary of Cervellon founded the nuns of the order in 1265. Due to conflicts between the knights and clerics, a petition was sent to Pope John XXII requesting that he convert the order to a purely clerical order which he did in 1398. Raimondo Albert the clerical Grand Master altered the rule to ensure that only a cleric could succeed him, thus cementing clerical control. The Knights of the Order then joined the military order of Montesa. The orders mission of redemption continued up until 1803, with over 80,000 slaves being freed, often at great risk to the Mercedarian Friars, with many being martyred or enslaved in the process. In the meantime the Mercdarians had established a strong presence in South America with the support of the Kings of Spain, where they went to convert the Indians, later taking on parish and educational work, which they do to this day. Knights and Dames were readmitted into the Order by a special decree of Master General Carmelo Garrido in 1926 and they received quick acceptance. King Alfonso XIII of Spain and his son the Infante, Alfonso, were both Knight Commanders of the Order. The Queen of Spain, Eugenie of Battenberg was a particularly devout Dame of the Order, being buried in the Orders mantle on her death. In 1928 King Alfonso issued a decree recognizing the Knights and Dames as an official order of chivalry, which has never been rescinded or abrogated. King Victor Emmanuel also accorded the Knights his official recognition but this was rescinded when Italy became a republic. The orders rapid growth aroused the envy of some other orders, particularly Cardinal Schusters Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which was undergoing its own rapid expansion at the time, and saw the Knights of Mercy as a threat. They arranged for a Commission of Cardinals to look into the matter and it enjoined the Order of Mercy to cease creating Knights and Dames and the use of Chivalric terms in its title. The Commission did not deny The Master Generals right to create Knights only to desist from doing so, which in the interests of harmony he did. The Knights and Dames continued, but now without official recognition. In 2002 Master General Araja reunited the Knights and Dames of Mercy into the Mercedarian family once again, with the Knights being admitted under Canons 299 and 322.

The Knights have an Apostolate of prayer, devotion to Mary the Mother of Mercy, the Catholic Church, and to undertake humanitarian work. The Knights Secretariat is in Catania and the Orders HQ is in Rome, where  Master General Ordone resides. The Knights known as the (Real) Compagnia di Santa Maria della Mercede are present in Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, USA, Malta, Monaco, UK, and Australia. The Knights Grand Master is Professor don Michael Thomas Sprenger- Menzel from Germany.

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