Mercad€, Eustache, French dramatic poet of the fifteenth century. The dates of his birth and death are not known. In 141-i he was official of the Abbey of Corbie near Amiens. According to a document that has been discovered quite recently, he was removed from his office in 1427 but was reinstated in 1-4.37, in accordance with a decision of the court of the Chatelet which was ratified by the Parliament of Paris on 2 May, 1439. Martin Franc, or le Franc", who ivrote in the mitUUe of the fifteenth century, mentions Mer- cade as one of the most famous "rhetorician- " of the time. In the My.stcr\- " that he composed, the author is mentioned on the liack of the last but one sheet: Ustasse Mercade, Docteur en decret, Bachcher en theologie, Official ile Corbie. The complete title of the Mystery to which he has attachetl his name is: "La Vie, la Passion et la Vengeance de Jesvis Christ." It is kept in the library of Arras under No. 625; the last part only, or the Vengeance, should l>e considered as the work of Jlercade. It contains 312 characters, of whom 112 have a speaking part.
Petit de Jolle-ville, Les Mystires (Paris, 1880); Creize- NACH, Geschichte des neuern Dramas (Halle, 1893) ; Memoires des Antiquaires de Picardie^ \11L_
P. J. MuilQUE.
Mercator, Marius. See Marius Mbrcator.
Mercedarians (Order of Our Lady op Mercy), a congregation of men founded in 121S by 8t. Peter NoUisco, b. IIS'J, at Mas-des-.Saintes-Puelles, Department of Aude, France. Joining Simon de Montfort's army, then attackmg the .-Vlbigenses, he was appointed tutor to the young king, James of Aragon, who had succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, Pedro II, killed at the battle of Muret. Peter Nolasco followed his pupil to his capital, Barcelona, in 1215. From the year 1192 certain noblemen of that city had formed a confraternity for the purpose of caring for the sick in the hospitals, and also for rescu- ing Christian captives from the Moors. Peter Nolasco was requested by the Blessed Virgin in a vision to found a religious order especially devoted to the ran- som of captives. His confessor, St. Raymond of Pennafort, then canon of Barcelona, encouraged and assisted him in this project ; and King James also ex- tended his protection. The noblemen already re- ferred to were the first monks of the order, and their headquarters was the convent of St. Eulalie of Bar- celona, erected 12.32. They had both religious in holy orders, and lay monks or knights; the choir monks were clothed in tunic, scapular, and cape of white. These religious followed the rule drawn up for them by St. Raymond of Pennafort. The order was ap- proved, first by Honorius III and then by Gregory IX (1230), the latter, at the request of St. Raymond Nonnatus presented by St. Peter Nolasco, granted a Bull of confirmation and prescril:«?d the Rule of St. Augustine, the former rule now forming the con- stitutions (1235). St. Peter was the first superior, with the title of Commander-General; he also filled the office of Ransomer, a title given to the monk sent into the lands subject to the Moors to arrange for the ransom of prisoners. The holy founder died in 1250, seven years after having resigned his superiorship ; he was succeeded by Guillatmie Le Bas.
The development of the order was immediate and widespread throughout France, England, Germany, Portugal, and Spain. As the Moors were driven back, new convents of Mercy were established. Houses were founded at MontpeUier, Perpignan, Toulouse, and Vich. This great number of houses, however, had a weakening effect on the imiformity of observance of the rule. To correct this, Bernard de Saint-Romain, the thinl commander-general (1271), co<lified the decisions of the general chapters. In the fourteenth century, disputes arising from the rivalry between the convents of Barcelona and Puy, and from the discord between the priests and knights, which ended in the
latter's suppression, disturbed the peace of the order. Christopher Columbus took some members of the Order of Mercy with him to America, where they foimded a great many convents in Latin .-America, throughout Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. These formed no less than eight provinces, whereas they onlv had three in Spain and one in France. This order took a ver>' active part in the conversion of the Indians. At the beginning of the seventf'enth century Father Gonzales, who had made his profession at the convent of Olmedo in 1573, con- ceived the idea of a reform, at that time necessary. The commander-general, Alfonso de Montoy, at first supported this scheme, but ended by opposing it. In this undertaking Gonzales was assisted by the Coun- tess of Castellan, who obtained for him the necessary authorization from Clement VIII, and presented him with three convents for his reformed monks (at Viso, Diocese of Seville; Almoragha, Diocese of Cadiz; Ribas). The reform was confirmed at the provincial chapter of Guadalajara in 1603. Father Gonzales took the name of John Baptist of the Blessed Sacra- ment, and died at Madrid in 161S. Paul V approved his reform in 1606; in 1621 Gregory XV declared it independent of the monks of the Great Observance. Their convents formed two provinces, with houses at Madrid. Salamanca, Seville, and Alcald, with a few foundations in .Sicily.
Father Antoine Velasco founded a convent of nuns of Our Lady of Mercy at Se\-ille in 1568, of which the first superioress was Blessed .\ime of the Cross. This foundation had been authorized by Pius V. The re- formed branch also established houses of barefooted nuns, or Nuns of the Recollection, at Lura, Madrid, Santiago de Castile, Fuentes, Thoro, and elsewhere. The female tertiaries go back to the verj' teginning of the onler (1265). Two widows of Barcelona, Isabel Berti and Eulalie Peins, whose confessor was Blessed Ber- nard of Corbario, prior of the convent there, were the foundresses. They were joined by .several compan- ions, among them St. Marv' of Succour (d. 31 Decemb., 1281), the first superior of their community. Blessed Mar\- Anne of Jesus (d. 1624), founded another com- mimityof tertiaries, under the jurisdiction of the re- formed branch. The Order of Mercy of late years has much decreased in membership. The restoration of the reformed convent at Thoro, Diocese of Zamora, Spain, is worthy of note (1888). At present the order has one province and one vice-province in Europe, and four provinces and two \'ice-provinces in America, ■n-ith thirty-seven convents and fi\'e to six hundred members. The Mercedarian convents are in Pa- lermo; Spain; Venezuela (Caracas, Maracaibo); Peru (Lima); Chile (.Santiago); Argentina (Cordova, Men- doza); Ecuador (Quito); and Uruguay. The Merce- darians of Cordova publish "Revista Mercedaria".
Besides the founder, .St. Peter Nolasco, the following illustrious memters of the order may be mentioned: St. Raymond Nonnatus (d. 1240), the most famous of the monks who gave themsches up to the work of ransoming captives; Blessed Bernard of Corbario, al- ready mentioned; St. Peter Paschal, Bishop of Jaen, who devoted all liis energies to the ransom of captives and the conversion of the Mussulmans, martyred in 1300; St. RajTnond was a cardinal, as also were Juan de Luto and Father de .Salazar. It is unnecessary to enumerate the archbishops and bishops. Writers were numerous, especialh' in Spain and Latin America in the seventeenth centurj-. To mention only a few: .•\lfonso Henriquez de Almendaris, Bishop of Cuba, who had f oundetl a college for his order at Seville, and from whom Philip III received an interesting report on the spiritual and temporal condition of his diocese in 1623; Alfonso de Jlonroy, who drew up the constitu- tions of the reform, and was a bishop in America; Al- fonso Ramon, theologian, preacher, anrl annalist of his order; Alfonso Velasquez de Miranda (1661), who