The Blessed Virgin appeared in the thirteenth century to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Pennafort, and to James, king of Aragon, requesting them to found a religious institute with the object of delivering Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens (Collect), who then held a great part of Spain.
In consequence of this, on August 10th, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom, and granted to its members the privilege of bearing on their breasts his own arms. Most of them were knights, and while the clerics recited divine office in the commanderies, they guarded the coasts and delivered prisoners. This pious work spread everywhere and produced heroes of sanctity and men of incomparable charity and piety who devoted themselves to the collection of alms for the ransom of Christians, and who often gave themselves up as prisoners to deliver captives.
This feast, originally kept only by the Order, was extended to the whole Church by Innocent XII in the seventeenth century.
O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son wast pleased to give new children to Thy Church for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee, that we who love and honour her as the foundress of so great a work may, by her merits and intercession, be ourselves delivered from all sin and from the bondage of the evil one. Through the same Lord. Amen.