Our Lady of Mercedes Day is a significant holiday celebrated on September 24 in the Dominican Republic. Its primary objective is to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, on the feast day instituted by the Mercedian order in the 17th century. It is a long-standing tradition in the country, and Dominicans are pleased to keep it alive. The celebration exemplifies the enduring impact of Spanish colonialism and the Catholic Church on Dominican culture.
The background of Our Lady of Mercedes Day
Our Lady of Mercedes Day is a national holiday commemorating the patron saint of the Dominican Republic, Our Lady of Mercedes, or “Nuestra Seora de Mercedes.” The Spanish Mercedians founded the festival in 1615.
Christopher Columbus, according to legend, erected a cross on top of one of the island’s peaks before setting sail. In 1495, when Spanish forces clashed with natives, the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared near the cross and frightened the natives away from the battlefield. This Lady of Mercy, or ‘Mercedes,’ is believed to have appeared multiple times, prompting the construction of the Church of Nuestra Seora de Las Mercedes.
The Roman Catholic feast day of Lady of Mercedes was declared a national holiday. It now functions as a reminder and an opportunity to honor the patroness of the island, and novenas are dedicated to her in the nine nights preceding it. Throughout the Dominican Republic, special church services and colorful parades are conducted during the holiday itself.
In addition, a beautiful procession is conducted in Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital. Additionally, devotees make a pilgrimage to Santo Cerro, where Our Lady of Mercedes is believed to have manifested, and present flowers and prayers.
5 FACTS CONCERNING THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Baseball is the most widely played sport in the Dominican Republic.
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OUR LADY OF MERCEDES DAY DATES