We’ve just celebrated La Mercé: the great party of Barcelona during September 24th, the day of La Mercé. Why do we celebrate la Mercé as the big day of the city of Barcelona? What other patrons exist in the Catalan capital?
La Mercé: a miraculous patron
The origins of La Mercé as patroness of the city of Barcelona date back to the seventeenth century, when in 1687 a locust plague devastated the city. To end it, Barcelona prayed in community to the Virgin of La Mercé.
In gratitude, she became the city’s patroness. But it was not until the XIX century when Pope Pius IX ratified and made official the decision for the locals to celebrate this festivity in September, reaching its composition as we know it today in 1902: a compendium of popular cultural activities in which the tradition of the people of Catalonia have great weight: Sardanas of the Empordà, “castells” (human towers), “diables” (devils) of Camp de Tarragona and Barcelona’s famous parades among other cultural events.
Santa Eulalia: the other patroness
The excessive role of Merce is detrimental to which until then was the undisputed patroness of the city of Barcelona: Santa Eulalia.
This saint, martyr of the Christian cause, turned the city into Catholic when it was the Roman Barcino (and die for it being tortured many times as years old was: thirteen), she was displaced by his partner in the calendar, but not shorn the title. So today Barcelona pays tribute to two patrons: the most famous La Mercé, and the oldest and the first, Santa Eulalia, who is dissatisfied when it rains, which are said to be the tears of Santa Eulalia when seeing how the city has forgotten her when La Mercé is celebrated.
And how does the city pay tribute to the oldest patroness? Every February 12th, smaller than the celebrations of September, the city celebrates a little fair in her honor. In addition, to remember what she did for Christianity in this city, the cathedral shows has 13 geese in commemoration of the thirteen years of Santa Eulalia and its thirteen tortures. Legend says that the day when the 13 geese take flight, will mean the destruction of the city of Barcelona.
Santa Madrona: the third in the group
If Santa Eulalia is said to be the forgotten patroness, talking about Santa Madrona is talking about the most forgotten saint of Barcelona. She is mainly acknowledged in the traditional neighbourhood of Poble Sec, which has two churches in her name and where they hold a procession on his name day: March 15th.
This procession is also a way of welcoming spring. In this particular neighbourhood you can appreciate the beautiful promenade that holds her name: a beautiful walk just 10 minutes from your apartment in Parc Miró and that encircles the slopes of the Montjuïc mountain.
Does Barcelona patron saints?
Barcelona is a city where female dominance is evident in terms of saints ¿But which are the male patrons of the city? Saint Celestine, Saint Sever and also Saint Jordi represent a similar confrontation as Merce – Eulalia – Madrona.
Celestine was going to take the place of Santa Eulalia, as it was a martyr who was harshly punished for defending Christianity in the city in the year 250, and whose remains rest in the Cathedral. Sant Sever is similar to Santa Madrona as few are the locals who remember him every November 6th despite being another martyr of the Christian cause. Finally Sant Jordi is known as the common saint (although it’s the official patron in Catalonia) the best known in Barcelona, as happens with La Mercé.