Thursday, 18 March 2010

La Miséricorde

Well, they say that you learn something new every day, and today was no exception. I’d be warned that it was ‘La Miséricorde’ in Propriano this week which means that lots of shops and businesses would be closed. Of course I’d completely forgotten until I came across the procession in the town this morning, and it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t actually know what ‘La Misericorde’ was!

Apparently our church in Propriano is actually called ‘Notre-Dame de la Miséricorde’ – have I been living in a cave? How did I not know that? Anyway, it turns out that this is one of the main religious ceremonies celebrated each year such as the Catenacciu at Sartène and basically a Saint’s day for the town. Religious fervour is still very strong in the region, and I was surprised by the large following of the precession as it made its way through the town back to the church.

The name seems to derive from the Latin ‘misericordia’ (meaning Mercy) and a quick Google search also through up some interesting facts. In medieval times a misericorde was a long, narrow knife used to deliver the death stroke (the mercy stroke, hence the name of the blade) to a seriously wounded knight. It also lends its name to narrow wooden ledges or folding seats known as mercy seats which can be found in churches to give relief to those who have to stand for long periods of prayer. Basically Mercy seems to be the theme and I can’t think of a better saint to celebrate than our Lady of Mercy.

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