There are many legends that revolve around La Mercé ('Our Lady of Mercy'), which have made her the Patron Saint of the city.
At the heart of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, you will find the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, known more commonly as ‘La Merced’. This Baroque basilica was built by architect Josep Mas y Dordal, between 1765 and 1776, on the foundations of a temple that dates back to before the 13th century. Legend has it that Pedro Nolasco (a Catalonian monk who died in 1245, creator of the Order of the ‘Bienaventurada Virgen de la Merced’), saw the Lady of Mercy in his dreams. These apparitions made his create his order, with the goal of redeeming Christian prisoners who had been seized by North African pirates. The Cathedral was created as a tribute to him, and his goal is still the mission of that Order today. Another legend says that the Lady of Mercy ridded the city of a plague of locusts. The town unanimously decided to make the Lady the city’s Patron Saint, as a way of thanking her for saving them. Ever since then, the people of Barcelona have paid tribute to their Patron Saint each year.