Saint Serapion






O sweet and precious wood, the perfect image of the Wood on which my beloved Jesus died, through You I hope to ascend to eternal happiness!




Saint Serapion was born in 1179 in the British Isles, a relative of a Scottish monarch. Though we don't know much about his early days, we know that he fought along side King Richard the Lionhearted and while caring for captives that were liberated in Palestine was arrested and placed in prison by the Duke of Austria. Leopold VII freed him and he travelled with Leopold VII in battle against the Saracens in Spain. He became friends of Peter Nolasco in Daroca and entered into the Order of Mercy there. The Mercedarians were at the time totally focused on freeing Christian captives being held in Muslim states. He travelled to England for recruitment but was ship wrecked and left for dead, miraculously surviving.



He and Raymond Nonnatus ransomed more than 150 captives in 1229. In 1240, while working with Father Berenguer de Banares in Algiers he purchased the freedom of 98 slaves. On his second trip, he negotiated the release of 87 more captives, but was held hostage in return for full repayment for the captives. Because his order did not know how much to send for his ransom, the captors nailed him to an x-shaped cross before dismembering his body. As he died upon this cross, he said


O sweet and precious wood, the perfect image of the Wood on which my beloved Jesus died, through You I hope to ascend to eternal happiness!

He was declared officially a martyr in 1728 by Pope Benedict XIII and officially added to the Roman Martyrology by Pope Benedict XIV with a feast day of November 14th. A very famous painting of Saint Serapion exists in the museum of fine arts in Seville called The Maryrdom of Saint Serapion. Painted in 1628, the oil on canvas painting by Francisco Zurbaran the painting was commissioned by the Mercedarian Order to hang in the Funerary Chapel hall of their monastery in Seville.

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