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According to legend, on 24 September 1218, Our Lady of Mercy – La Mercè – appeared before King James I and Saint Peter Nolasco, ordering them to found the Mercedarian Order to free the faithful who were prisoners of the Saracens. This manifestation of the Vir- gin was made patron saint of Barcelona later when, in 1687, the city overcame a terrible plague of locusts after oering up prayers to Her. Nearly two hundred years later, Pope Pius IX ocially recognised La Mercè as the city’s patron saint and the people of Barcelona began to celebrate Her feast, though the current format of a programme featuring Catalan traditions was not adopted until the late-19th century.

Tradition

Getting the party started

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 / 7.45 PM Pl. de Sant Jaume

Those who want to experience the festival from the very start and, by the by, get a live taste of Barcelona traditional imagery, should come to Plaça de Sant Jaume. There you will nd the city’s gegants, giants, along with the Àliga, Víbria, the Bou, the Mulassa... ready to perform their traditional dances, some accompanied by reworks, to music played by the Ministrils del Camí Ral. This ensemble, which performs only once a year, is formed by some forty musicians, all playing traditional Catalan instruments: the gralla, the tarota, the abiol the tabal, and so on. Pure tradition.

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