Q: Is Virgen de la Merced or Virgen de las Mercedes the same as Our Lady of Mercy?

A: Our Lady of Mercy is indeed Virgen de la Merced and Virgen de las Mercedes. The title is of Spanish origin. Merced or Mercedes indicates favor or favors Mary attributes to those who ask for her mediative role.

The religious order of the Mercedarians (also called Orden de Nuestra Senora de la Merced) was most instrumental in disseminating this title in Spain and in Latin America. This order was originally founded to redeem Christian captives from their Arab torturers during the Arab occupation of Spain in the Middle Ages. Nowadays Our Lady of Mercy is the patron saint of prisons and prisoners in general (since 1939 in Spain). The principal meaning of Mary's favor as Our Lady of Mercy is that of freedom (inside and outside); it is not in vain that the founder of the Mercedarians, Peter Nolascus, was called "consul de libertad."

Mary under the title of Mercy is patroness of the cities of Barcelona and Xeres de la Frontera (Cadiz/Spain) and approximately sixty other towns and villages in Spain, not to forget the many sanctuaries in Latin American countries.


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