Mercedarian Order was founded in America in 1538, at an early stage of
the Spanish colonization.
Their monastery in Ciudad Vieja was simply built, most likely from
straw and adobe.
The construction of La Merced Church in the new capital began in the
mid 1500’s Due to the earthquake of 1565 and 1689, the Mercedarians
had to continually rebuild, modify, amplify, repair their church
Señora de la Merced patron saint of the city, was worshipped here and
turned La Merced into a very popular church. It was also the most
important provincial center of the Mercedarians.
The monastery, housing
up to one hundred monks, possessed a remarkable library, in addition to
all the necessary rooms and facilities of a large monastery.
The beautiful fountain in its cloister
was the largest at that time.
earthquakes if 1717 extensively damaged both the monastery and church;
the latter was slowly rebuilt and was finally inaugurated in 1767. This
imposing building, with three large naves, a majestic cupola, and
elaborate baroque decorations on the outside, is what we still see
Constructed to be earthquake proof, it survived the great earthquake
of Santa Marta six years later. The monastery, on the other hand, was
completely ruin, in spite of its solid walls. In the 1800’s, its
rubble was utilized to build the church in San Felipe de Jesus.
The beautiful altars that decorated the
temple of La Merced before 1773, as well as the organ, are found today
at La Merced Church of Guatemala City.