A merchant and a gentle man, St. Peter Nolasco was holy in a radical sense. With a small group of friends and fellow workers with whom he had been associated for some time, he founded the Order of the B.V.M. of Mercy for the Redemption of Captives in 1218. Because of his liberating activity, he was and remains within the church and for the world, the living image of Jesus surrendering himself to the point of death to save and redeem captives, sinners and the lost of this earth.
Being a merchant, a bourgeois born around 1180, he begins to work hard at the beginning of the 13th century. Differently from Francis of Assisi, Peter does not feel the need to break with all forms of money, wealth and buying and selling in order to reach Christ’s radical poverty. He comes to the same conclusion but in a radically different way: he encounters Jesus in the very heart of his business, he meets him in the captives, in the Christian slaves in Moslem lands. This leads him to the center of the social and religious conflict dividing the known world at the time.
Peter was building the lines of a new movement dedicated mostly to the liberation of captives. He was a man of his time, touched to the quick by the problems of his age and responding to them creatively. Jesus’ Gospel began in Galilee, but it keeps on being actualized on earth. Nolasco’s good news has its beginning in Barcelona, between the 12th and the 13th centuries, but it lives on with all its value for mankind.