Serapion Scott was born at the turn of the year 1178 in the British Isles and was a relative of the Scottish monarch.
Still a child, he was at the side of King Richard the Lionhearted on the Third Crusade, fighting for the faith and for the liberation of the Holy Land. Even then, he was busy caring for the captives who were being liberated in Palestine, and he too suffered in prison at the hands of the Duke of Austria, until he was set free by the latter’s son Leopold VII, whom he went on to accompany in the battles against the Saracens in Spain, at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212.
After the victory, he retired to Burgos, leaving that city to accompany Leonore of Castile in 1221, who was headed to Aragon to marry King James I. In the following year, he became acquainted with Peter Nolasco in Daroca and entered the Order of Mercy.
Impelled by charity for the captives, he carried out several redemptions. On one of the redemptions traditionally attributed to him, he was accompanied by Raymond Nonnatus in 1229 and ransomed more than 150 captives. During the redemption in 1240, which he carried out with his companion Fr. Berenguer de Bañares in Algiers, he was taken hostage.
Tradition has it that St. Peter Nolasco wrote to Fr. Guillermo de Bas asking him to collect — without delay — the necessary goods with which to come to the aid of the redeemer. Since they did not have the price of ransom in time, St. Serapion was crucified on a cross like St. Andrew. He is said to have pronounced the following words while hanging on the cross: “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!”
Because of his cruel martyrdom on the cross, he is the patron saint of those who suffer bone and joint pains. The blessing of oil in his honor is an ancient tradition of the Mercedarian Order that is included in the current Ritual.
His process of beatification was started in 1717 in Barcelona and Genoa, conducted by Manuel Ribera and José Rimón as procurators. On July 14, 1728, a decree was issued confirming his immemorial cult, and on Aug. 24, 1743, he was included in the Roman Martyrology.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini