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misericordia



Also known as a misericorde ("mercy"), a narrow-bladed dagger used by a knight in giving the coup de grâce or finishing stroke to a wounded foe.

Misericordia is also the name of a society (of laymen) in Florence, founded in the 13th century, who tend the poor sick, carry victims of accident or disease to hospitals, and the dead to their burials. Members of all classes of the community, including the highest, are enrolled in this charitable association; and their somber and forbidding costume – a dark monastic dress, with the cowl pulled down over the face so that the eyes merely peep through little holes – is not assumed because the Frati della Misericordia are penitents, but to check demonstrations of gratitude to the individual brethren.