The 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 monastery.



Nuestra 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.


The 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 today.


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.




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