Barcelona Events 2024

La Merçè 2024 - Public holiday

Virgen de la Mercè - día festivo

Public holiday in Barcelona only

Event date:
Tuesday 24th September 2024

Event location
Barcelona only


Día de la Mercè. Virgen de la Mercè. The 24th September is local public holiday in Barcelona in celebration of 'La Merçè' who is one of three co-patrons saint of Barcelona, the others being Santa Eulalia and Santa Madrona.

The Barcelona Festival La Mercè is the biggest annual 'festa major' festival in Barcelona and place in the days surrounding this public holiday.

Check our Merce Festival Guide for highlights and essential information about 2023 Merce festival.

Shops are generally closed on public holidays in Barcelona so most shops and businesses will be closed on 24th September in Barcelona.

Barcelona transport, attractions, restaurants, nightlife, souvenir shops and convenience stores are generally open.

La Mercè legend

According to legend on the night of 2nd August 1218 the Virgin Mary appeared to the Catalan knight Pere Nolasc. She asked him to form a sacred order of monks in her name.

He did as she asked and formed the Order of Merced, dedicated to ransoming poor Christians, who were take prisoner by Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades and who could not afford to pay their ransoms.

Pere Nolasc had actually already been doing this since 1202 so for 15 years before the Virgin appeared to him, but he always praying for help and divine intervention and this came in the form of a Marian experience in 1218.

The Order of Mercy was established on August 10, 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort, and with support from the Count of Barcelona and King of Aragon King Jaume I.

All the details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy are kept to this day in the Aragon Crown archives in Barcelona. Centuries later, in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè helped Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear.

After the locust plaque the Council of the City elected La Mercè as patron saint of Barcelona. Since 1687 the city has celebrated La Mercè festival every year in Barcelona and the locust plague has never returned. In 1868 she was canonised as a patron saint by the Pope Pius IX.

La Mercè was also briefly appointed commander of the army during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) when Barcelona was under siege by French troops supporting Philip of Anjou in a contest for the Spanish crown.

The Virgin had better success fighting locusts than French soldiers because in 1714 Barcelona was captured by French troops on September 11th 1714 marking the end of the war. Philip of Anjou became Felipe V of Spain.

This defeat is now commemorated in Catalonia as the Catalonia national day which in recent years has become a showcase event for nationalist supporters of Catalan independence from Spain. 

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Various locations

Various locations in Barcelona

This event takes place at various locations in Barcelona.

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La Mercè - Día de la Mercè Public holiday Barcelona 2024
Public holidays 2024