Our Lady of Mercy/ Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Patrona de la República Dominicana
According to the legend on March 1495, Christopher Columbus, accompanied by a few Spanish men had to face the Chief and a large number of Indians in a battle for gold. They built a trench from which to do battle and planted a large wooden cross next to this trench. It is said that the Virgin appeared on the cross.
The Indians made the Spanish run from their trench, retreating to a hill. The Indians tried to destroy the cross and even tried to burn it but they could not destroy it. Because of the aggressiveness of the Indians Columbus and most of the troops decided to leave. Fray Juan Infante, who carried a statue of Our Lady of Mercy, urged the Spanish to continue fighting and promised them victory on behalf of the Virgin.
The next day the forces of Columbus had victory over the native peoples of the island, taking what belonged to these original peoples of the island.
Columbus told his son Diego that he wanted to build a church in this spot in the Virgins honor. In 1527 atop the hill was established in the first convent of the Order of Mercy. After this incident, there was a shrine built to honor Our Lady of Mercy at the very top of the hill where Columbus planted the miraculous cross.
Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro
The church that sits on this spot now was built in 1880. This shrine of Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro is atop a hill that is about 8 miles from the town of La Vega. Every year on September 24 thousands of the faithful makes a procession there to honor this patron saint. There is a museum here and from the veranda, atop the holy hill El Santo Cerro, there is a spectacular view of Valle De La Vega Real in the Cordillera Septentrional.
The Virgen de la Mercedes is well known and loved in many countries including Peru, Argentina and many other countries.
Since 1259 padres Mercedarios begin to spread devotion to Our Lady of Mercy (or Mercedes) that extends around the world. San Pedro Nolasco, inspired by the Blessed Virgin/ Santísima Virgen, founded an order dedicated to the mercy/ la merced (which means works of mercy/ obras de misericordia). San Pedro Nolasco and his friars were very devoted to the Virgin Mary. They took her as their patron saint and guide. Los mercedarios were knights of the Virgin Mary/ caballeros de la Virgen María in the service of his redeeming work and honor as Mother of Mercy or Virgin Redeemer/ Madre de la Merced o Virgen Redentora.
Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes
The Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes/ The Church and Convent of Our Lady of Mercy located on Calle Mercedes in Colonial Zone has services for the Virgin every year on September 24 is Día de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes when there is a procession in her honor.
A video if the procession going up Calles 19 de Marzo crossing Arzobispo Nouel in Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on September 24, 2008
See the dates of all the Patron Saint celebrations throughout Dominican Republic