Barcelona Events 2017

Event Description

La Merçè 2017 - Public holiday

Virgen de la Mercè - Dia festivo - public holiday in Barcelona only

Event date: Monday 25th September 2017
Event location: Barcelona only

Día de la Mercè. Virgen de la Mercè. The 25th September is local public holiday in Barcelona in celebration of 'La Merçè' who is the co-patron saint of Barcelona. This holiday is usually on 24th but has been moved in 2017 to fall on a Monday. The Barcelona Festival La Mercè is the biggest annual 'festa major' festival in Barcelona and place in the days surrounding this public holiday. Check our Merce Festival Guide for highlights and essential information about 2017 Merce festival. Shops are generally closed on public holidays in Barcelona so most shops and office will be closed on 25th September in Barcelona. In the city centre of Barcelona transport, attractions, restaurants, nightlife, souvenir shops and convenience stores will be open.

La Mercè legend
According to legend on the night of 2nd August 1218 the Virgin Mary appeared to the Catalan knight Pere Nolasc. She asked him to form a sacred order of monks in her name. He did as she asked and formed the Order of Merced, dedicated to ransoming poor Christians, who were take prisoner by Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades and who could not afford to pay their ransoms. Pere Nolasc had actually already been doing this since 1202 so for 15 years before the Virgin appeared to him, but he always praying for help and divine intervention and this came in the form of a Marian experience in 1218. The Order of Mercy was established on August 10, 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort, and with support from the Count of Barcelona and King of Aragon King Jaume I.

All the details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy are kept to this day in the Aragon Crown archives in Barcelona. Centuries later in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè helped Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear. After the locust plaque the Council of the City chose La Merce as patron saint of Barcelona and she was canonised as a patron saint in 1868 by the Pope Pius IX.

Since 1687 the city has celebrated La Mercè festival every year in Barcelona and the locust plague has never returned. La Mercè was also briefly appointed commander of the army during the war of succession in 1714, when the Barcelona was under siege by the French. The Virgin had better success fighting locusts than French soldiers because this time Barcelona lost the fight and the city was captured by the French on September 11th 1714. This defeat is now commemorated as the Catalunya national day.

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