The Santa Casa de Paz y Misericordia Brotherhood in Baiona

Edificio escola deportiva

On April 5th, 1574, upon Captain Rodrigo García's initiative, an outstanding army man at the Monte Real Garrison, a meeting was held and important members of the local militia, society, and business class attended. During that meeting, the "Nuestra Señora la Madre de Dios Virgen María de la Misericordia (Blessed Mother of Our Almighty God, the Holy and Merciful Virgin Mary) Brotherhood" was born. According to the constituent act, the Brotherhood was expressly authorised by His Highness King Philip II of Spain and it was similar to brotherhood in Lisbon, established by Her Highness Queen Leonor of Portugal, King John II of Portugal's wife. The name and the statutes were taken from the Portuguese brotherhood.

The Brotherhood was born under St. Isabel, Queen of Portugal, invocation. An image of the Saint can be seen at the high altarpiece in the chapel.

Al igual que en otras importantes ciudades y villas del Reino, existían en Baiona diversas Cofradías y Gremios: San Telmo, Espíritu Santo, Virgen del Carmen, Ánimas... y también la del Corpo Santo, la más importante y numerosa, concedida por varios Sumos Pontífices y a la cual pertenecían todos los mareantes de la villa. Pero desde el año 1864 todas han quedado abolidas y la única que se ha salvado, ignorándose los motivos, ha sido esta que conocemos cotidianamente con el nombre de "Santa Casa".

By that time there were several confraternities and guilds. Notwithstanding, all of them were abolished in with the only and inexplicable exception of the Santa Casa. Hence, it is the oldest brotherhood in Galicia.

It was born with the aim of doing merciful and charitable works in a time when Baiona -the most important defensive enclave in Galicia- normally witnessed poverty and death caused by enemy attacks. The Santa Casa was in charge of burying dead locals and foreigners.

A "Purveyor" assisted by 9 councillors, a clerk and a pair of mayors chaired the Brotherhood. Elections were held every 4th of July, St. Isabel, Queen of Portugal saint's day. Elected members sworn on the Gospel and after the clerk their posts.

At the end of the 16th century, during religious wars to conquer Ireland, the Brotherhood helped and sheltered exiles coming to Baiona. Our hometown had, by that time, business and sea links with British ports. One of those exiles, the Irish priest Robert Poore, died in Baiona in 1595, and was buried here under Irish soil to meet his last will.

Since its foundation the Santa Casa, recently granted the Gold Medal of the Village, has been organising the Holy Week celebrations.