In the first years after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, his followers were often hunted, imprisoned executed. According to laws of the time, the Apostles were criminals against the state.
Becuase of this every apostle, expect Saint John, was martyred. This includes the first pope, Saint Peter, who was imprisoned on multiple occasions, most famously in the Mamertine Prison in Rome where he was held until his execution around the year 67 AD and in Jerusalem under Herod.
During his earlier incarceration in Jerusalem, the Bible recounts a miraculous event where an angel rescued him from the prison.
“On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists.” – Acts 12:6-7
Today, the very chains that held Saint Peter in both the cell in Jerusalem and those from the Mamertine Prison in Rome are on display in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) in Rome.
According to tradition, after receiving the chains from St. Peter’s imprisonment in Jerusalem from the empress of the Constantinople, Pope Leo The Great held them next to the chains from the Mamertine Prison in Rome, and the two chains miraculously fused together.
Considering that many of the saints and apostles were at one time prisoners and that Our Lord himself was a prisoner before His execution, it is no surprise that the Church has always taught that showing mercy to prisoners is of utmost importance. In fact, Visiting the Prisoner is one defined Corporal Works of Mercy that every Catholic is commanded to do.
While not every one us is able to visit prisoners in jail, we can still meet our duty and help prisons in their spiritual needs. One powerful way to minister to prisoners is through MISSIO from the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Launched by Pope Francis himself, MISSIO is a new and innovative Catholic crowd-funding platform that allows you to directly help provide aid and assistance to the poorest areas around the world with the most need.
With MISSIO you can directly support the works of Catholic missionaries in the poorest and most desperate areas of the world, including prison ministry. Just some of the giving opportunities on MISSIO include helping prisoners in Rwanda attend Mass, helping a priest mentor former prisons in Nigeria, helping a priest prevent abandoned children in Uganda from turning to a life of crime, or send general support for the Pope’s missions around the world.
MISSIO is powered by The Pontifical Mission Societies, the Catholic Church’s official support organization for overseas missions since 1822, providing for a global network of people who are making a difference for communities in need around the globe.
Perform a Corporal Work of Mercy with MISSIO!