The Blessed Virgin of Mercy appeared to St. Peter Nolasco in 1218, recommending him to found a religious community dedicated to help the captives who were taken to faraway places.
This Marian invocation was born in Spain and spread throughout the rest of the world.
St. Peter Nolasco, inspired by the Blessed Virgin, founded an order dedicated to mercy (which means works of mercy).
Catholic Church calls for prudence for Las Mercedes holiday
Their mission was mercy for Christians held captive by Muslims.
Many of the members of the order exchanged their lives for the lives of prisoners and slaves. It was supported by King James the Conqueror and advised by St. Raymond of Peñafort.
St. Peter Nolasco and his friars, very devoted to the Virgin Mary, took her as their patron and guide.
Their spirituality is based on Jesus the liberator of humanity and the Blessed Virgin, the liberating Mother and ideal of the free person.
The Mercedarians wanted to be knights of the Virgin Mary at the service of her redemptive work. That is why they honor her as Mother of Mercy or Virgin Redeemer.
From the year 1259 the Mercedarian fathers began to spread the devotion to Our Lady of Mercy (or of Mercy) which spread throughout the world.
It is in this context that one of the images of great devotion in the Dominican Republic, and the oldest, is that of Our Lady of Mercy.
The city of Santo Domingo was severely affected by the earthquake of September 8, 1615, and then the Cabildo of Santo Domingo declared the Virgin of Mercy “Patroness of Hispaniola”.
In 1740, by Royal Decree, her feast day was changed to September 24.
With the National Independence, in 1844, the Virgin of Mercy was declared Patron Saint of the Dominican Republic.