Saint Mary Cervellon or the Helper

Saint Mary Cervellon
Saint Mary Cervellon

The first Mercedarian sister from the noble family of Cervellon was born in Barcelona, on Moncada Street, on December 1, 1230. She was baptized on December 8, on the ancient sarcophagus of the protomartyr of Barcelona, Saint Eulalia, which was used as the baptismal font of Santa María del Mar parish. Immersed in the aura of charity created by the brothers-redeemers of captives in her native city, young Mary felt attracted by their liberating commitment and she became the consolation of the poor, the sick and captives in Saint Eulalia Hospital. There, she met the first great figures of the Mercedarian Order who were gathered around Peter Nolasco.

She requested the white Mercedarian habit and she made her religious profession on May 25, 1265, as a sister of the Order at the hands of Brother Bernardo de Corbaria, promising to work for the redemption of captives. With her, young ladies from prominent families formed a community: Sisters Eulalia Piños, Isabel Berti and María de Requesens soon to be joined by Sister Colagia.

Mary is also known by the surname of Socós, Socorro or the Helper. This is because during her life and after her death, on several occasions, Sister Mary was seen on the wings of the wind helping the redemption ships pounded by the rough sea. Mary died on September 19, 1290. Her mortal remains were buried in the church of the Mercedarian friars of Barcelona, today the Mercedarian basilica. Her uncorrupted body reposes on the first altar to the right. Ever since the thirteenth century, Mary was considered as a saint. She has been invoked as the patroness of sailors and she has her parish church in Barceloneta, that is Barcelona’s port.

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