Legend has it that on the night of September 24th 1218, the Virgin of La Mercè appeared simultaneously to King Jaume I, Saint Pere Nolasc and Saint Ramón de Penyafort, asking all three to create an order of monks dedicated to saving Christians imprisoned by the Saracens. She was not seen or heard from again until 1687 when Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts, and placed itself in her hands. After the plague ended, the city council named her the official patron saint of Barcelona (well, co-patron saint alongside the city’s original one, Santa Eulàlia).
Over the last two centuries, Barcelona’s festival in honour of the Virgin has become a celebration of grand proportions; the biggest of the year, with a huge programme of events including concerts, fireworks, art and traditional Catalan culture, while the city also opens its gates to performers from around the globe. This year’s invited guest city is Vienna, giving us the chance to discover the Austrian capital through its music and art. It has been specially chosen because of its relationship with Barcelona at the time of the city siege that ended on September 11th, 1714—the upcoming tricentenary of that key Catalan date will feature heavily during La Mercè. As an added treat, the festival’s opening speech will be given by super-chef and internationally-recognised Catalan icon Ferran Adrià.
For more information click here. Keep an eye out for the programme of festivities.