Born between 1182 to 1189 to a noble family near Castelnaudary, France, St. Peter Nolasco is honored now with a feast day on Jan. 31. He died sometime between 1256 and 1259 at Barcelona, Spain. Known for piety, charity and giving alms. Peter took an oath of chastity, gave away all his belongings to the poor, and took a vow of silence joining the Albigenses in Barcelona.

The Moors controlled Barcelona and persecuted Christians. Peter ransomed Christians from the Moors before exhausting funds. Fueled by heavenly visions, he founded the Mercedarians, or Royal and Military Order of Our Lady of the Redemption of the Captives. They vowed to redeem enslaved Christians or take their place in captivity.

Pope Gregory XI approved Peter’s order in 1230. Peter and his brothers were laymen in the order. Pope Clement V issued a decree that the order’s master general must be a priest.