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Peter Nolasco

(c. 1180—1249)

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founder of the Mercedarian Order. Much uncertainty surrounds the details of his life owing to legends and spurious documents. He was born in Barcelona of a merchant family. He became procurator of Raymond of Pennafort's lay confraternity for ransoming slaves from the Moors. This became the Mercedarian Order in 1234, following the Rule of St Augustine and approved by Gregory IX in 1235. Peter was its Master-General until 1249. During a visit to Valencia and Granada it is claimed that he redeemed 400 Christians. His Order spread through most of Spain and was closely associated with Ferdinand III's reconquest of the southern provinces.

In 1628 the papacy confirmed Peter's cult and extended it to the universal church in 1664. A fine series of paintings by Zurbarán survives at the Prado, Madrid. Feast: 28 January.

N.C.E., xi. 225; Bibl. SS., x. 844–52; H.S.S.C., vi. 281.

Subjects: Religion

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