Today, the 24th of Septemeber, the Dominican Republic celebrates a national holiday called “El Día de la Virgen de las Mercedes” or simply “Día de las Mercedes”.
“El Día de la Virgen de las Mercedes” has been celebrated in the Dominican Republic since 1218, when a new religious Order was founded in Spain. Later the practice was adopted in this country – just one of the many examples of the Dominican Republic’s rich cultural heritage that incorporates the celebrations of so many diverse countries.
Although the holiday was originally established in 1218 in Spain, as the Dominican Republic was at that time not yet a Spanish colony, it wasn’t until several hundred years later that Catholicism became the predominant religion in the Dominican Republic. So it was in 1844, the year of the Dominican Independence, that the Virgen de las Mercedes was declared “Patroness of the Dominican Republic”, and the holiday began to be celebrated in this country.
The sanctuary of the Virgen de las Mercedes is located in the ‘Santo Cerro’ (Holy Hill), a small hill on which stood the ancient city of La Concepción de La Vega, this holy place is located in the middle of the Dominican Republic, in between La Vega and Santiago.
The Virgen de las Mercedes is considered a spiritual guide for many cities in the country, and this day is celebrated with great devotion annually on the 24th of September – mostly in the towns of Cabrera, Constanza, Hato Mayor, Imbert, Pimentel and Sabana Grande de Palenque, which are distributed all over the country.
In addition, many hundreds of people travel up to the “Santo Cerro” to pray and offer the Virgen de las Mercedes flowers, as well as taking part in other symbolic rituals.
Happy Mercedes Day, and we hope this can be for all, a beautiful day to enjoy with the family!