ow is the time when the darkness takes over our lives for an extended period of time depending on how we look at it. Halloween, The Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, etc. are only snapshots in time whereas the fall season brings us darkness earlier now as we “head into” winter.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the majority of the events at this year’s festival in Barcelona. It is a shame because there were many interesting shows filled with music, arts, lights, performances, etc. Along with some friends (one of whom is named Mercé) we attended the Swan Lake performance by the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg, Russia. The performance was held in and sort of around one of the more popular parks called the “Parc de Ciutadella”. There were many elements in the show but to me the 2 most memorable ones were the dancers performing on the actual lake in the park and the contrast between their white ballerina outfits and the black void of the water was a beautiful mirror affect that everyone was very impressed by.
This was ART!. This was BEAUTY….
This was BARCELONA at it’s best. Not to be overshadowed by the performing dancers on the “Lago de Ciutadella” there were the remarkable images interplaying with the drama being performed, and similar to the same type of projections done on the facade of the Ayuntamiento of Barcelona and one done in Madrid for BMW, Swan Lake Barcelona was just as impressive……Take a look! and make Comments
Well as usual in Barcelona and in life we have to take the good with the BAD and this has to be noted about this performance in the park……Since the performance was happening at different perspectives and locations in the same area people were always having to move from area of the park another. This meant walking in the dark among hundreds of people which of course is a HUGE problem anywhere but in Barcelona it is especially a little more dangerous…anyway ..when we arrived at the lake to see the performance there were literally no provisions provided by the city to see the performance in terms of seating.
So there was no barrier between the lake and the bank of the lake and of course the people lucky enough to be positioned there were able to see the performance without anyone in front of them but the people behind were stuck with trying to watch either over everyone’s heads or through the cracks in the wall of people. Also the vegetation around the lake should have been taken care of so that people could see everything & also VERY IMPORTANT to preserve the plants and vegetation that were being trampled underfoot by the crowds…..
In closing there was a very surreal moment, and it was when a flock of geese swam by the dancers “suspended” on the water and with the all the lights and the crowds the geese didn’t seem to be bothered by all the “to-do” going on.
Mercé Festival…… Further Information from Barcelona Yellow Pages
The name of the Merce Festival
Barcelona’s biggest annual festival is the Merce Festival – “Les Festes de la Mercè.” This is the celebration of the Patron Saint of Barcelona, the Virgin Mary, who as Barcelona’s Saint is titled “María de las Mercedes”, meaning “Mary of Mercies.” She is also known as ”La Mare de Deu de la Mercè,” meaning “Mother of God of Mercy” or simply “Virgin de La Mercè” – the Virgin of Mercy. Or Nuestra Señora de la Merced (Spanish) which means Our Lady of Mercy – or La Mercè for short. The words “Mercè” in Catalan and “Merced” in Spanish, mean “mercy” in English. In the Catholic faith, when the Virgin Mary appears to someone, it is termed a “Marian experience.” Following such a miraculous appearance, the Virgin is is often awarded a title referring to the occurance, for example “the Virgin of xyz.“ The title could refer to, the place where the Virgin Mary appeared, or in the context of her appearance. In the Barcelona province alone there are eight other virgin Mary titles. This explains the many titles for the Virgin Mary. Often these titles are used as girls’ names. The full name for a girl named Mercedes is “María de las Mercedes” from the Virgin Mary meaning “Mary of the Mercies.” Another example is the name Pilar. The full name for a girl named Pilar in Spain is “María del Pilar.” The name Pilar comes from the legend that the Virgin Mary appeared on a pillar in the city of Zaragoza in the year 40 AD and so she received the title “ La Virgen del Pilar. ” which means ” The Virgin of the pillar.”
The Merce legend in Barcelona
According to legend, on the night of 2nd August 1218, the Virgin appeared to the Catalan knight and later Saint Pere Nolasc telling him to form a sacred order of monks in her name, the Order of Merced, dedicated to ransoming ordinary and poor Christians imprisoned by the Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades, who could not afford their ransoms. Pere Nolasc had been doing this for 15 years since 1202, but always praying for help and divine intervention, which then came in the form of a Marian experience in 1218. The Order of Mercy was established on August 10, 1218 with the help of his confessor at Barcelona cathedral, called 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 Archives of the Aragon Crown in Barcelona. Centuries later in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè is also accredited with banishing a plague of locusts. After the locust plaque disappeared the Council of the City named La Merce as patron saint of Barcelona and she was canonised as a saint in 1868 by the Pope Pius IX. Since 1687 the city has celebrated La Mercè every year in Barcelona and the locust plague has never returned. La Mercè ce was also briefly appointed commander of the army during the war of succession in 1714, when the Barcelona was under siege by the French. The Virgin was perhaps better at fighting locusts then French soldiers because Barcelona was captured by the French in on September 11 1714, which is now commemorated as the Catalunya national day.
La Mercè church – Basilica La Mercè
You can see a sculpture of La Merce at the church called “Basilica La Mercè” on the square Plaça de la Mercè in the Raval area of Barcelona near Barcelona Port Vell harbour and close to the port end of La Rambla. This is the only church in Barcelona with a baroque façade. The first church on this location was built in 1267 and it was later reformed several times. Between 1765 y 1775 the architect Josep Mas renovated what is now the present day church Basilica La Mercè The building at the opposite end of the plaza was formerly the “Convent of the Mercè,” and is an army office today. You can also see a fountain on the Merce plaza depicting the Greek god of the sea in Roman mythology, Neptune. Look up and you will see the sculpture of the Virgin on the roof of the Basilica La Mercè. Inside the church look for the gothic wooden statue of “Virgin and Child” which is attributed to the artist Pere Moragues in 1361.
Merce Guest City 2011 Saint Petersburg
Every year the Merce Festival in Barcelona announces a guest city. In 2011 Barcelona welcomes St Petersburg and highlights its music, traditions and other cultural activities during La Merce in Barcelona. One of the star shows of the La Mercè 2011 will be the outdoor Swan Lake performance in the park “Parc de la Ciutadella” on the lake in the park featuring over one hundred dancers from the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg
Welcome back from the summer break! Here’s to hoping that everyone has had quality time to vacation, sunbathe, enjoy outdoor activities, or whatever you heart desired.
There is a saying that goes “All good things must come to an end” and so it goes with summer 2011. The weather was weird but in the end we did see some scorching hot days.
As we go into the fall semester there will be more activities like debates, videos, commentaries, etc. which will give you many opportunities to practice your English and express yourself.