(Spanish) name associated with the cult of the Virgin Mary, from the liturgical title Maria de las Mercedes (literally, ‘Mary of Mercies’ in English, ‘Our Lady of Ransom’). Latin mercedes (plural) originally meant ‘wages’ or ‘ransom’. In Christian theology, Christ's sacrifice is regarded as a ‘ransom for the sins of mankind’, hence an ‘act of ransom’ was seen as identical with an ‘act of mercy’. There are feasts in the Roman Catholic calendar on 10 August and 24 September to commemorate the Virgin under this name. As a given name, this is now occasionally used in England, and more commonly in the United States, but normally only by Roman Catholics. It is associated with the American film actress Mercedes McCambridge (1916–2004). A more materialistic association with the high-class German brand of car so named may also be having an influence on the continued use of the name in this increasingly secular age.