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Virgin of Mercy, the patroness of Dominican Republic

Virgin of Mercy, the patroness of Dominican Republic

Annually with great trepidation Dominicans celebrate the Virgin of Mercy Day, the saint patroness of their country. Her name is associated with the religious order of Mercy established in 1218. And even though it was founded in Barcelona, Spain, and not on Dominican land, which at that time was not a colony of Spain, the followers of the Order, one of the first clergymen who came to the Dominican Republic during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus brought the image of the Virgin of Redemption.

According to legend, on the eve of an important battle between the Spanish and the local natives on March 24, 1495 the Virgin of Mercy appeared to the soldiers in the Spanish camp and promised them a victory. In gratitude, the Spaniards laid the cult of the Virgin of Redemption and began to serve her on the spot where the Spanish camp was, on the hill of Santo Cerro.

On September 8, 1615 there was a strong earthquake in the Dominican Republic, for more than 40 days it was disturbing the island for its repeats. San Domingo was seriously injured, 24 people were killed. Throughout the time in which the multiple shocks occurred, the people prayed fervently to the Virgin of Redemption, and when the earth finally subsided, the council of Santo Domingo announced her as his patroness. Since then, every year on September 8 in the city a solemn ceremony dedicated to the cult of Our Lady of Mercy was organized, and in 1740 the festival was postponed on September 24.

When in 1844 the Dominican Republic gained its independence, the Virgin of Mercy became a patroness of the whole country. Her sanctuary is located on the Santo Cerro, it was built in 1884. Thousands of pilgrims visit this place every year.

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9 days before the celebration in the Dominican Republic so-called Novenas are organized; these are 9 nights of vigils. And on September 24 through all of the country the divine services and processions dedicated to the Virgin of Redemption are held. Many believers go to Santo Cerro, to leave flowers and pray to their patroness. On this day people visit the shelters for the poor and prisons to leave small gifts for those who live there.

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