Festivities of Our Lady of Mercy

The festivities of Our Lady of Mercy in Barcelona

They are celebrated around September 24 and are the most important festivals in the city of Barcelona.

They were created in 1871, in honor of the Virgin de la Merced, named patron of the city in 1868 by Pope Pius IX.

The programming of the festivities focuses, above all, on the Mediterranean culture, and includes more than 500 activities for all tastes: from parades and concerts, to folk dances or street theater and dance shows.

Among the many events that take place, we must mention the typical human castles, the parades of giants and big heads, the Correfoc (disguised characters that carry fire and flares) or the BAM festival, of independent music.


The last centuries of the Middle Ages, the south and the Spanish Levant were in the power of the Arabs and with their lives in suspense.

The Mediterranean was infested with Turkish and Saracen corsairs, and they attacked the ships that landed on the coasts and took many captives.

A charitable soul elicited by God was San Pedro Nolasco, called the Consul of Liberty.

He prayed insistently to the Virgin Mary and wondered how to remedy such a sad situation.

Feast of the dragons

Pedro Nolasco

He was born in France and the place and date of his birth is unknown.

Nor is the name of their parents known. They were rich and noble people. When he was 15 years old his father died.

For that date Peter had such firm faith that he consecrated body and soul to God, making vows of perpetual chastity.

A few years later his mother also died.

Already without the consolation of the parents, Pedro traveled to Spain, with the promise of visiting the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Monserat, near the city of Barcelona.

That was his first stop in Spain. There he was for several days in fasting and penance.

From that sanctuary he left for Barcelona (1213) where he identified with the pain and misery of the captives and other victims of the war between Moors and Christians.

Soon he began to act. He sold everything he had and began the purchase and rescue of captives.

On the night of August 1, 1218, with Nolasco in prayer, the Virgin Mary appeared to him.

He encouraged him in his attempts and conveyed to him the mandate to found the Religious Order of Mercy for the redemption of captives.


After Peter’s conversation with the Virgin Mary, he presented the project of the new Order to King James I and the royal and papal adviser Raimundo de Peñafort.

The three admitted having had the same order from the Virgin. They immediately started working on the foundation of the Order.

San Pedro Nolasco, supported by King Jaime the Conqueror and advised by San Raimundo de Peñafort, founded on August 10, 1218 in Barcelona the “Celestial, Royal and Military Order of Our Lady of Mercy,” for the redemption of captives in the power of the Muslims.

The word mercy means: mercy, help, charity; derives from the Latin merx, merchandise – mercies, pay, reward – act of benevolence, funny benefit.

Barcelona is proud to have been chosen by the Virgin of Mercy as the place of her appearance and she has it as a celestial patron.

Since the thirteenth century she is the patron saint of Barcelona and on September 25, 1687 she officially proclaimed herself patron saint of the city.

She is also the patron saint of the captives (prisoners) and of many countries in Latin America.

In the year 1696, Pope Innocent XII extended the feast of the Virgin of Mercy to the whole Church, and set his date on September 24.


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