1941 Wynnewood Road, Philadelphia, PA 19151
Phone: (215) 473-1669
Fax: (215) 473-1670
Mercy Prayer Line: (215) 879-0594
"HOW AWE INSPIRING THIS PLACE IS! This is nothing less than a House of God; this is the gate of Heaven" (Genesis 28:17)
"HOW AWE INSPIRING THIS PLACE IS! This is nothing less than a House of God; this is the gate of Heaven" (Genesis 28:17). With many people seeing, and more importantly entering, a church ought to be conscious of its being the "House of God." If mute stone can evoke such sentiments, what indeed should our feelings be when we realize that this building is not mere brick and mortar, but the manifestation of the spiritual health, vitality, and needs of the People of God. These buildings proclaim themselves, in the fullest sense, to be monuments to the peoples' faith and piety. Thus it is that we speak here of the story of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish with its people and their achievements.
With the passing of Wistar Morris in 1887, parcels of his land (which had been in the family since the original land grants of William Penn in the late 1600's) were sold to several individuals. In 1889 the Childs and Drexel Syndicate purchased from the Morris family and other adjacent landowners the area now included between 58th Street and 66th Street, City Line and Woodbine Avenue. This suburban, or more accurately, rural area called Overbrook Farms, was to be developed into a gracious community of large custom-built homes. In 1890, such a large undertaking was a bold innovation. By 1893, the developers realized that no real community would ever develop without sufficient churches. So they offered land to several denominations with the condition for each that a stone church would be erected within one year at a cost of not less than $25,000 – equivalent to perhaps millions with the economic situation as it is. This proposal was made for purely business reasons.
During these same years a number of Catholic families had purchased homes in Overbrook farms. And in those Victorian times of large household staffs, many members of these staffs were Catholics. Both groups found the trip to the parish church, Our Lady of the Rosary, at 63rd and Callowhill Streets, quite arduous, and frequently in winter almost impossible. They therefore petitioned Archbishop Ryan on several occasions to erect a chapel closer to this new community.
Thus, by early 1894, these two groups, prompted by quite different if not opposite motives, inspired the Archbishop to appoint the young curate at St. Agatha's parish in West Philadelphia, the Rev. James A. Mullin, as founding pastor of the new parish in Overbrook, St. Mary Magdalene's. The date was April 14, 1894.
It may surprise our parishioners that Our Lady of Lourdes was originally named St. Mary Magdalene Parish. However, there is a little humorous and historical footnote which bears telling. Father Mullin, upon learning of his new appointment, was eager to dedicate his new parish to the patronage of Our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes. Archbishop Ryan, however, felt that since many churches in the city were already under Our Lady's patronage, a new one might cause some confusion. Father Mullin pleaded in vain. In June of 1894 the illustrious Dr. Herman J Heuser of the faculty of St. Charles Seminary received a letter from Mr. Hugh F. Sullivan, of Merion, PA. Mr. Sullivan at the time was a very sick man in Los Angeles. His letter stated that he had heard that a new parish was soon to be erected in the area; since he had a great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, he would donate $2000 toward the construction of the new church if it were dedicated to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes. Father Mullin immediately advised Archbishop Ryan of this seemingly providential answer to his prayers. Upon learning of the gift, the Archbishop told Father Mullin humorously, "You now have two thousand reasons, so I must let you name your new parish ‘Our Lady of Lourdes'." This was just two months after Father Mullin's appointment, June 24, 1894.
How does a young man of thirty-five, a priest for just nine years, organize a parish out of a vast rural area with only a handful of Catholics? He must undoubtedly be a man of limitless energy as well as a man with an unbounded faith in the power, goodness, and mercy of God. Picture the physical complexion of this new parish. The parish boundaries extended from 56th Street and Lansdowne Avenue to the southeast and to the Schuylkill River in the north, which included Bala, Merion, Wynnewood, and part of Ardmore. It bordered Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Bryn Mawr to the west, St. John's in Manayunk to the north, Our Mother of Sorrows to the east, and Our Lady of the Rosary to the south. The burgeoning suburban sprawl of the twentieth century saw no less than nine parishes shrink these original boundaries – St. Gregory's, St. Callistus', St. Barbara's, and St. Rose of Lima's in the City and St. Margaret's, (Narberth), St. Matthias' (Bala Cynwyd), St. John Vianney (Gladwynne), St. Coleman's (Ardmore) and the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Penn Wynne), in Montgomery County.
But Father Mullin received his new responsibilities with some singular assets. He had a choice piece of ground free and clear. He had the diocesan seminary, St. Charles Borromeo (located in Overbrook for more than thirty years at that time) in his parish. Most important of all, he had an energetic flock that was truly devout; one that was more than prepared to plow and cultivate this new field with him, into which the seed of the faith had just been transplanted. With an insight characteristic of the pastor bonus, he began with first things first. He was appointed on April 14th, and on April 22nd he was installed as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the chapel of St. Charles Seminary with approximately sixty persons present.
A word should be said of the notable role that the rectors, faculty, and student body of St. Charles Seminary played in the early days of the parish. Within forty-eight hours of his appointment, Father Mullin called on the rector of his Alma Mater, Msgr. John E. Fitzmaurice, D.D. Monsignor Fitzmaurice received Father Mullin cordially and immediately placed the entire resources of the institution, both human and physical, at the new pastor's disposal. During this period, the new parish literally existed at the seminary. The Pastor resided and conducted all parish activities there for a year and a half. Two of its faculty in particular, Father Augustus Schulte, and Father Frances Siegfried , were virtually unofficial curates, administering baptism, conferring the sacrament of matrimony, and conducting various other needed services. Later on, as Bishop of Erie, Monsignor Fitzmaurice was asked to break ground for the Church. In 1899, as on numerous parish occasions, the student body assisted at the dedication of the Church. Among these new seminarians was William J Lallou, though he was not in actual attendance. Also present was a young seminary professor, Rev. D. J. Dougherty, who later as Cardinal Archbishop, appointed Monsignor Lallou as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
Inheriting the ancient tradition of the Faith, all should have love and concern for one another. Peculiar to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is a particular intensity of that tradition, exemplified by the surrounding parishes and people of West Philadelphia hovering over the new parish like fond aunts and doting uncles. Every parish in the area and several beyond, gave assistance to Father Mullin and his flock in one form or another by donating sacred vessels, vestments, altar furnishings, and numerous collections. Within six months of his appointment, on Mary 21, 1894, Rev. Daniel O'Conner, Pastor of St. Agatha's Parish held a fair for three weeks to raise money for the new parish, and with joy, presented Father Mulllin with a check for $6,000!
Busy days abounded in early autumn, 1894. The spiritual needs of the parish had been quickly and efficiently provided for with the order of services scheduled at the Seminary. Now the task was to concentrate the talents and resources of the flock for the erection of a suitable church and surrounding buildings. This was an undertaking which was to demand the attention and sustained effort of the pastor and people for twenty years until the summer of 1914 when the convent was completed. A parish is a living thing, and even its physical plant seems somehow to partake of this life, with its constant change. Each pastor has devoted a sizeable measure of this time and energies to the maintenance and improvement repair and enlargement of these original buildings, up to the present day, when the current pastor, Fr. James A. Mayer, O. de M,. is planning expansion to meet the needs of the parish community in the new millennium.
During the summer of 1894, those responsible for designing and building Our Lady of Lourdes decided that it was to be a thirteenth century, rural English Gothic Church (to harmonize with the style of the new community); it would be built of Port Deposit granite with Indian limestone trim, cruciform in shape, with a length of 110 feet and a width of 50 feet with 80 feet as the transept. Thomas P. Lonsdale was selected as the architect, and after bids were received, Thomas Rielly was designated to be the builder. The original bid of $27, 537 was for a finished basement 12' high and the shell (i.e. walls and rood) of the church itself. On October 22, 1894, just six months after his appointment, Bishop Fitzmaurice, Father Mullin and a few parishioners broke ground.
The tempo of activity in those twilight years of the nineteenth century quickened. Buildings were now rising in the parish and throughout the surrounding, residential community. Along with the growth of businesses and homes, the flock's population also increased and showed its vitality by organizing various parochial activities, the lifeblood of any parish. On May 15, 1895, the Archbishop laid the corner stone and dedicated the basement. The entire clergy vested at a private home at 6308 Drexel Road, and proceeded in solemn procession to the Church. In September, the Sunday School was organized, and consisted of thirty children taught by six laywomen of the parish. On October 1st, the first fair was held in the unfinished main church. On October 13th, the Sodality of Our Lady of Lourdes was organized and also in October, Father Mullin moved into a rented rectory at 1141 N. 63rd Street. In the same month, the Stations of the Cross were installed. The sacraments of baptism and Matrimony were first administered in that year of 1895 as well.
The rectory was begun in April and completed in October 1896 at a cost of $10,500. In May, the first parish mission was held. On February 21 1897, the Sisters of Mercy conducted their first Sunday School class in the parish. They first came by carriage from their Motherhouse in Merion to Our Lady of Lourdes, and on subsequent occasions, walked the two miles each way. Also in that same year, Rev. John J. McCort (later Pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, and finally Bishop of Altoona) was appointed the first curate. In 1898, the Spanish-American War erupted while Overbrook continued to grow. In November, the one-ton church bell was hung in the steeple. As the century faded, the parish was blossoming. In the final weeks of the century, the interior of the main church was completed, and the solemn dedication ceremonies were presided over by Archbishop Ryan on October 15, 1899. After five and a half years the Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes was robust and well prepared to enter the twentieth century with confidence.
During the early years of the twentieth century, the unfolding of parish life was moving ever so quietly and unobtrusively with that vital, immanent action so characteristic of leaven. Its forces were nourishing its members and spreading out over the bosom of the community. In the spring of 1900, a non-Catholic resident of Wynnewood, a Mrs. Jones, learned from her housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Frehan, a parishioner, that the new church needed land grading and the planting of sod. She gratuitously sent her gardeners, Messrs. Keohane and Ryan, also parishioners, with horses, carts, and sod to complete the landscaping. In 1900, the marble statues were added to the sanctuary, and in December, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish gave birth to St. Margaret's Parish. In 1902, St. Matthias Parish, Bala Cynwyd, was sliced off from Lourdes. Early in 1906, the corner of 63rd and Lancaster was purchased from the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind for $16,500. Ground was broken in 1907 and the school opened in 1908 with a total enrollment of 78 students. With characteristic foresight the school was built to house five-hundred pupils and proved adequate for parish needs for over fifty years. The architect of te school building was Roland W. Boyle and it was built by the same Thomas Reilly as the church at a cost of $36,000. The convent, also designed by Roland W. Boyle and built by Thomas Reilly, was begun in October, 1913 and the Sisters of Mercy took possession on the Feast of Assumption of Mary in 1914.
During the early years of the 20th Century, both the League of the Sacred Heart, and the Holy Name Society were organized. In 1913, the Saint Vincent de Paul Conference was begun. During WWI, the parish community engaged in enormous activity with bond drives, volunteering for Red Cross Blood Drives, and eighty of its members served in the Armed Forces during the "Great Patriotic War." The twenty-year struggle to erect the four parish buildings had hardly been completed in 1914 when the inevitable task of refurbishing was necessary. In 1918, the basement was completely remodeled and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes installed. The Upper Church was painted and decorated in 1919, and consecrated by Archbishop Dennis J. Dougherty, D.D. in May of that Silver Jubilee year.
The second twenty-five years of the parish were quiet days. The intensity and steadfastness of purpose during those strenuous founding years seemed to require a respite. Pope Benedict XV recognized the achievements of Monsignor Mullin and the parish by honoring him with the rank of Domestic Prelate on the Feast of St. Patrick, 1921. In July of 1922, the physical dimensions of the parish plant were completed. The triangle opposite the Church at the intersection of 63rd St., Lancaster Avenue, and Woodbine Avenue was purchased. On the official record there appeared to remain only Monsignor Mullin's celebration of the Golden Jubilee of his ordination in 1935, and internment after his death in 1941.
When the Pastor Bonus departed this life on March 1, 1941, he was laid to rest beneath a simple monument-marked with a Celtic Cross in the quadrangle formed from the two homes which he built, the church and the rectory. To those who knew him, it seemed most fitting. Out of God's divine gift of eighty-two Springs, fifty-six of them were spent as a priest in the harvest field of the Lord, and forty-seven of these were given to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and its people; in the spirit of St. Paul…"I am in labor, until Christ be born again within you".
To sketch the picture of those twenty-five years is to sketch the picture of the whole first pastorate of this parish. The picture will not be painted here, it will only be painted in the hereafter. Here we can only sketch, draw broad outlines, and hope that the outline, with a suggestion of detail, will be colored and put into focus by the faith of the reader. Roughly one thousand couples were blessed and wished "Godspeed" by their beloved pastor, while he witnessed the exchange of vows of each couple, thereby conferring the Sacrament of Matrimony on each other. Over 2,000 little ones were baptized into the Faith from the Sunday and Parish School and were endowed with the fortitude to live their lives more abundantly in Christ. The other Sacraments, the other visible signs of an inward grace, no records can be readily unearthed. We can say with safety that these "quiet years" of the First Pastorate were vibrant with the intensity of the leaven of the Kingdom.
The next quarter century of Our Lady of Lourdes (actually twenty-eight years) included the second and third pastorates,m and the brief but auspicious beginning of the fourth. This was the period of two major upheavals, one civil and the other ecclesiastical: WW II and the Second Vatican Council. The first event dominated Monsignor Hyland's pastorship, and the war's effects influenced much of Monsignor Lallou's. The Council confirmed, as it were, much of Monsignor Lallou's rectorship as it did Monsignor Rilley's. It was during this period that people saw their neighborhood, along with the country as a whole, undergoing profound changes. Some changes affected the very character of the community itself, while others were merely a passing reflection of the times. Parishioners saw the parish influencing the community and vice versa.
It was in March, 1941 that the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis E. Hyland, J.C.D., the pastor of the Resurrection Parish in Chester, Pennsylvania, was appointed by Cardinal Dougherty to be the new pastor of the flock in Overbrook. He had spent ten years on the staff of the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, D.C., and he brought to the parish both the experience and the skill of a brilliant delegate.
These were the months just prior to America's precipitous plunge into the Second World War. The upheaval and dislocation of those four years were reflected in the parish as well as in the country at large. All parish activity focused on essential tasks. Thus, the Golden Jubilee in 1944 was commemorated only by a solemn Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Hugh L. Lamb, D.D., Bishop of Harrisburg, who also preached. The church was redecorated and new lighting installed for this solemn occasion.
In 1946, Monsignor Hyland added to the single church bell a full-range carillon with tower amplification. Perhaps he felt that the deep majestic tone of the single bell, installed during WWI, was inadequate to express the joy of his people when they welcomed home the four hundred eighty-seven members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish who had served their country during another WWII. However, even this marvelous instrument could not toll their grief for the sixteen who did not return. Those years saw the parish raise almost one million dollars in war bond drives, and its priests and people gave themselves to every phase of the war effort, from parish Red Cross units to blood donations.
It seemed, with the distractions of those war years, that Monsignor Hyland's pastorship had hardly begun when the parish was startled and delighted to learn that Rome had selected him to be the Auxiliary Bishop of Savannah-Atlanta, in Georgia. The people knew him as the quiet spiritual man of God whose calm advice and warm help had comforted so many during those hectic years, but the fact that the Monsignor's laudatory character traits should reach Rome's ears appeared quite extraordinary to the good people of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Monsignor Hyland was consecrated to the episcopate at the Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on December 21, 1949, and the parish had the joy that Christmas of assisting at a Pontifical Mass celebrated by their Pastor. The flock wished him "Godspeed" for his new mission at a reception on January 8, 1950, and presented him with a check for $11,000. After almost half a century under one shepherd, there were mixed feelings among those devout people upon realizing that one so able had remained for so short a time. To complete the story, Bishop Hyland ruled the combined diocese until 1956, when it was split into two individual dioceses, Savannah and Atlanta, and in that year he became the first Bishop of the new diocese of Atlanta, Georgia. His health forced him to retire in 1961 and he returned to God on January 31, 1968, fondly remembered by the people of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The third pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes was the Rev. William Lallou, S.T.D., who assumed leadership of the flock in Overbrook at the midpoint of the twentieth century as the readjustment after World War II was nearing completion. His tenure was to span seventeen years and to see how the profound changes of the Second Vatican Council with its call for liturgical reform were expressed and lived out on the parochial level, becoming an integral part of parish life.
The new rector brought with him the fruits of a remarkable priestly career of forty-six years. He also brought a nostalgic association with Lourdes that reached back almost to the beginning of the parish itself. Monsignor Lallou preached at the Silver Jubilee of the parish in 1919, and at the Golden Jubilee of Monsignor Mullin in 1935. He arrived on January 10, 1950 with, as he wrote, "a feeling for the first time in my priestly vocation of absolute permanence….(a feeling) that here was a relationship which was to last ‘till death us do part'" (Lallou, Apologia pro Via Mea, p. 22).
In the forty-five years between his ordination and his appointment to Overbrook, Monsignor (or Doctor as he preferred to be addressed) Lallou had a career as notable as it was varied. He was a graduate student at the Catholic University of America, then appointed curate at a suburban parish, then ten years later he was appointed as curate of St. John's, a downtown parish in what was then the heart of the theater district. He was an Army chaplain in the First World War and upon the war's ending, he was appointed rector pro tem of St. Ann's in Pheonixville. A few years later he was appointed as the director of diocesan charities, later to be known as the Catholic Children's Bureau, then appointed permanent rector of St. Philip Neri, the parish of his parents and grandparents in South Philadelphia, which proved not to be too permanent for he then spent twelve years as professor of liturgy and dogmatic Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and another twelve years as professor of liturgy and master of ceremonies at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. It was during his tenure at CUA that he cultivated a growing renown throughout the diocese and beyond as a stirring orator.
He assumed his responsibilities with an astonishing vigor and youthfulness which belied his years. On Easter 1950, he introduced what became a familiar scene: two altar boys dressed as San Luigi pages who served at all solemn ceremonies. In 1952, the number of masses was increased to keep pace with the continuing growth of the parish. On May 28, 1954, Monsignor Lallou and the whole parish celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. In 1958, a new shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was installed in the chapel and the centenary of Our Lady's apparition to Saint Bernadette was solemnly commemorated.
On October 23, 1959, Pope Blessed John XXXIII honored Monsignor Lallou by naming him Domestic Prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. The Parish formally congratulated him at a reception in the school hall on November 29th of the same year. The triangular plot opposite the church was publicly identified as part of the parish plant with the erection of a contemporary Celtic cross on a granite base. The cross was blessed on October 2, 1960.
By the early nineteen 1960's, the continuing growth of the parish created a serious problem of overcrowding in the school. The original building had served the parish's needs for fifty-seven years, but was no longer up to the task of effectively educating the young people of the parish, and four classrooms were added as a separate building in 1963 to alleviate the overcrowding. It was built of Mt. Airy granite on a structural steel framework by John McShain following the blueprints designed by architect, Henry D. Dagit. The cornerstone was laid on November 2, 1963, and Monsignor Lallou, assisted by two priest sons of the parish, Rev. Joseph Finnerty and Rev. Michael Burke, blessed the completed building on February 16, 1964. Two private homes on 63rd Street was purchased and demolished to enlarge the schoolyard on the south side of the school.
On May 28, 1964, Monsignor Lallou celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood at a solemn Mass with Archbishop John J. Krol presiding and five members of the hierarchy attending: Bishops Hyland, McDevitt, Graham, Yuen and Espelage. A reception was tendered by the parish the evening before at which a resolution of the City Council of Philadelphia honoring the jubilarian was read. On June 7th of that year he was elevated to the rank of Prothonotary Apostolic (a mitered Monsignor), and solemnly invested downtown at the Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul by the Archbishop. Monsignor Lallou was one of only sixteen men in the history of the diocese to receive this honor.
In 1965, the Lower Church was air-conditioned and its appearance dramatically changed. A drop ceiling was installed with new lighting and a tile floor was laid down and gave the Lower Church a cleanness of line and freshness of appearance.
One of the final acts of Monsignor Lallou was the creation of Our lady of Lourdes Home and School Association. It held its first meeting at the Green Hill Theater on June 6, 1967, the day before he retired with the title of Pastor Emeritus.
The story of the third pastorate would not be complete without recounting the poignancy of its ending. In the Spring of 1967, Monsignor Lallou requested an interview with Cadinal Krol, at which time he advised His Eminence of his desire to be relieved of the office of Pastor if he could be spared. The Cardinal warmly congratulated him on his wisdom and his concern for his flock by voluntarily requesting retirement while still in complete possession of his faculties and vigor, though burdened with the weight of eighty-seven years. He asked the Cardinal to grant him one request, that he be allowed to stay at Our Lady of Lourdes and be buried beside his friend of half a century, Monsignor Mullin, and thus remain in the midst of the people he loved and served so well for the greater part of the parish's third quarter-century.
On June 7, 1967, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Thomas J. Riley became the fourth Pastor of the flock in Overbrook. He brought with him over twenty-five years of priestly devotion and service and over a decade of administrative skill as the Director of the Office of Diocesan Charities. He found the parish vigorous, alive, and on the eve of its Diamond Jubilee. Monsignor Riley worked diligently to implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Monsignor Riley was called to God in March of 1978 and Monsignor Gillespie was appointed pastor.
Monsignor John Gillespie continued to institute the reforms of the Second Vatican Council during the turbulent times following the Council, building on the work of Monsignor Riley. Monsignor Gillespie was loved by a great many people who were sorry to see him leave the parish after being pastor for only seven years. Father Thomas Hagan was pastor for one year from 1984-1985.
Father Thomas Hagan was replaced on August 19, 1985 by Fr. James Sherlock, who worked diligently and earnestly for the school and church, which was to became his home for nineteen years. During Fr. Sherlock's time, many groups such as music, commissions, Aids for Friends, and countless other programs were instituted in the parish.
It was during this time that in 1994, Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated its centennial year of existence. The church was beautifully repainted in anticipation of this celebration. Archbishop Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua celebrated this great moment in its history at the Christmas Mass of the same year. Fr. Sherlock was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from August 19, 1985 to July 1, 2004, when Archbishop Justin Cardinal Rigali graciously entrusted the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, better known as the Mercedarian Friars.
The Reverend Fr. James W. Mayer, O. de M. was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 1, 2004, at the age of 38, and was formally installed as the Eighth Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, by Bishop Michael Burbidge on August 29, 2004.
Christmas, 2004, was a joyful and historic moment for Lourdes, as the parish celebrated Midnight Mass for the first time in many years, but more so as Bishop Joseph McFadden, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia and a priest son of the parish, recently raised to the Episcopacy, returned to Lourdes to celebrate the Midnight Mass. Within one year, the Friars have instilled new life into the parish with the implementation of several programs for the work of Evangelization. The upper Church was air-conditioned and underwent major work or restoration to the plaster, lighting, painting, pews and altar appointments. In response to Pope John Paul II's dedication of 2004-2005 as the Year of the Eucharist and his desire for increased devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, April 3, 2005, the parish began Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Grotto Chapel of our Lady of Lourdes. Efforts are now being focused on the School's Centennial Celebration coming up in 2008 and the ardent hope to establish a School Foundation and Alumni Association.
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy itself has a rich history, being founded by Saint Peter Nolasco in 1218, in Barcelona Spain for the ransom of Christians in danger of loosing their Faith. The Order's Marian character and spirit is evident in the love and devotion displayed and promoted by the Friars. The charism, or apostolic work, of the Order was and is a life and work of Mercy – to preserve the Faith from being lost and to ensure the liberty of the sons and daughters of God.