Quote of the Day – 17 December – The Memorial of St John of Matha O.SS.T (1160-1213) – Founder of the Trinitarians
The Trisagion Chaplet
The Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives, more commonly known as The Trinatarians, was founded in France by St John de Matha and St Felix of Valois (1127-1212) in 1198.
From the very early stages of the of order, the Trinitarians have used a form of prayer based on the Trisagion (sometimes Trisagium or Triagion, from the Greek “three” + ”holy”).
This is a Byzantine prayer still used in the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches in praise of the Holy Trinity.
It’s simplest form is “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.”
The Trisagion Chaplet (also called a rosary) has three sets of nine beads each – of course, a rosary can be used too.
When reciting the Trisagion Chaplet, each set begins with the Trisagion: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.” and the Pater Noster.
An invocation is said on each of the nine beads – “To you be praise, glory, and thanksgiving forever, blessed Trinity. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.”
Each set of nine prayers is followed by a Gloria Patri (“Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”) and the recitation of the chaplet ends with a closing prayer.
Quote of the Day – 17 December – The Memorial of St John of Matha O.SS.T (1160-1213) – Founder of the Trinitarians and the Devotion to Our Lady of Good Remedy
From the Apostolic Letter “Sacred Vessel of the Holy Trinity” by St Pope John XXIII (AAS LIII, 1961, 602-604)
The Trinitarian religious whose primary duties are to worship the Triune God with a special devotion, to promote this devotion and to aid the needy and those who suffer by performing works of mercy, have honoured the Virgin Mary – Sacred Vessel of the Holy Trinity – under the title of “Mother of Good Remedy” from the very beginnings of their Order.
Indeed, St John de Matha, their founder and lawgiver, had a great love for the Virgin Mother of God. He founded and spread this holy Order under her protection and bequeathed to his sons and daughters the heritage of a strong Marian devotion. A singular love, for the Mother of God, has flourished among these religious throughout the ages, for she continually healed the sufferings of her suppliants; indeed, it still flourishes among them up to the present day.
The General Chapter of 1959, aware that such traditional devotion had become even stronger in the Order, decided to express the desire of all religious of the Order and to petition the Apostolic See that the glorious Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Good Remedy, should be declared the principal, heavenly patroness of the Trinitarian Order.
We have willingly decided to grant this request, hoping that the friars of the Order will be inflamed to honour the Virgin Mary under this title with an even more ardent love. We also trust that they, moved by her example, will more intensely commit themselves to bring relief and remedy to the less fortunate. Therefore, after consulting with the Sacred Congregation of Titles, with full knowledge and mature deliberation and with the fullness of our apostolic authority, by virtue of this document, we designate and declare the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Good Remedy, to be forever the heavenly, principal patroness of the whole Order of the Most Holy Trinity, along with St Agnes, virgin and martyr. The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Good Remedy is to be given all the liturgical honours and privileges which are fittingly accorded to the patrons of religious Orders and Congregations; moreover, we grant the added faculty of celebrating her feast each year on 8 October.
Most powerful Virgin, we come to you in dangers and adversities. You are our protection, you are our refuge, you are our Mother of Remedy.
Saint of the Day – 17 December – St John of Matha O.SS.T (1160-1213) – Priest, Founder of The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Trinity or the Trinitarians, Confessor, – born on 23 June 1160 at Faucon, Provence, France and died on 12 December 1223 at Rome, Italy of natural causes.
Patronage – The Trinitarians.
Between the eighth and the fifteenth centuries, medieval Europe was in a state of intermittent warfare between the Christian kingdoms of southern Europe and the Muslim polities of North Africa, Southern France, Sicily and portions of Spain. The threat of capture, whether by pirates or coastal raiders, or during one of the region’s intermittent wars, was not a new but rather a continuing threat to the residents of Catalonia, Languedoc and the other coastal provinces of medieval Christian Europe.
The redemption of captives is listed among the corporal works of mercy. The period of the Crusades, when so many Christians were in danger of falling into the hands of Muslims, witnessed the rise of religious orders vowed exclusively to this pious work.
St John of Matha was born to noble parents on the borders of Provence on 23 June 1169. He was baptised John, in honour of St John the Baptist. His father Euphemius sent him to Aix, where he learned grammar, fencing, riding, and other exercises fit for a young nobleman. It is said that while there he gave the poor a considerable part of the money his parents sent him and he visited the hospital every Friday, assisting the sick poor.
He studied theology at the University of Paris and was ordained a priest at the age of 32 in December 1192.
According to Trintarian tradition, on 28 January 1193, John celebrated his first Mass. During that Mass, he was struck with a vision of Christ holding by the hand two chained captives, one a Moor, the other a Christian (the Crusades were in full force at the time). The Christian captive carried a staff with a red and blue cross. After the Mass, John decided to devote himself to the task of ransoming Christian captives from the Moors. Before entering upon this work, he thought it needful to spend some time in retirement, prayer and mortification and having heard of a holy hermit, St Felix of Valois (1127–1212), living in a great wood near Gandelu, in the diocese of Meux, he repaired to him and requested him to instruct him in the practice of perfection.
One day while walking with Felix, John had another vision–a white stag appeared at a stream with a red and blue cross between its antlers. John disclosed to Felix the design he had conceived on the day on which he said his first mass, to succour captive Christians under slavery and Felix offered his help in carrying it out. They set out for Rome in the midst of a severe winter, towards the end of the year 1197, to obtain the pope’s benediction.
On 17 December 1198, he obtained the preliminary approval of Pope Innocent III for a new order dedicated in honour of the Blessed Trinity for the redemption of Christian captives. This order was fully approved in 1209. The Order of the Most Holy Trinity’s first monastery was established at Cerfroid (just north of Paris) and the second at Rome at the church of San Tommaso in Formis. Christian slaves were first rescued by the Order in 1201. In 1202 and 1210 John travelled to Tunisia himself and brought back countless Christian slaves.
St John founded the Trinitarians to go to the slave markets, buy the Christian slaves and set them free. To carry out this plan, the Trinitarians needed large amounts of money. So, they placed their fund-raising efforts under the patronage of Mary. In gratitude for her assistance, St John of Matha honoured Mary with the title of “Our Lady of Good Remedy.” Devotion to Mary under this ancient title is widely known in Europe and Latin America and the Church celebrates her feast day on 8 October. Our Lady of Good Remedy is often depicted as the Virgin Mary handing a bag of money to St John of Matha.
Before his death, Trinitarian tradition says he met St Francis of Assisi and introduced Francis to the Frangipani family, one of the benefactors of the Franciscan order. St John of Matha died on 17 December 1213, in Rome in the house of St Thomas In Formis on the Caelian Hill.
In 1655, his relics were transferred from Rome to Madrid. He was Canonised on 21 October 1666 by Pope Alexander VII (cultus confirmed).
Today the Trinitarian family is composed of priests, brothers, women (enclosed nuns and active sisters) as well as committed laity. Members of the Trinitarian family include the Trinitarian religious, the Trinitarian contemplative nun,; the Trinitarian Sisters of Valence, the Trinitarian Sisters of Rome, Valencia, Madrid, Mallorca and Seville, the Oblates of the Most Holy Trinit, the Third Order Secular (tertiaries) and other Trinitarian laity. All are distinguished by the cross of red and blue which dates from the origins of the Order. Trinitarians are found throughout Europe and in the Americas as well as in Africa, India, Korea and the Philippines.
In 2000 the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life approved “The Trinitarian Way” rule of life which would guide all the lay groups associated with the Trinitarians including the Third Order Secular, the Trinitarian Movement, Confraternities, etc.
Like the Jesuits, Trinitarians also pledge not to seek promotion within the Church hierarchy. If promotion is offered, however, it is accepted.
The Order of the Most Holy Trinity is active on five continents and in many countries.
One Minute Reflection – 4 November – Today’s Gospel: Mark 12:28b-34 -Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B and the Memorial of St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) and St Felix of Valois (1127-1212)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”...Mark 12:30-31
REFLECTION – “You cannot love God without loving your neighbour and you cannot love your neighbour without loving God. In effect, the visible sign a Christian can show, in order to witness to his love for God to the world and to others, to his family, is the love he bears for his brothers, is the love of his people. The Commandment to love God and neighbour is the first, not because it is at the top of the list of Commandments. Jesus does not place it at the pinnacle but at the centre, because it is from the heart that everything must go out and to which everything must return and refer.
In the Old Testament, the requirement to be holy, in the image of God who is holy, included the duty to care for the most vulnerable people, such as the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Ex 22:20-26). Jesus brings this Covenant law to fulfilment, He who unites in Himself, in His flesh, divinity and humanity, a single mystery of love.
Now, in the light of this Word of Jesus, love is the measure of faith and faith is the soul of love. We can no longer separate a religious life, a pious life, from service to brothers and sisters, to the real brothers and sisters that we encounter.”…Pope Francis – Angelus, 26 October 2014)
PRAYER – God power and mercy, by whose grace, Your people give You praise and worthy service, help us to see Your face in our neighbour. To love them all as we love You. Save us from faltering on our way and grant us the joys You have promised . St Felix of Valois and St Charles Borromeo kindly assist our journey by your prayers. Through Jesus our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 4 November – St Felix of Valois (1127-1212) – Priest, Hermit and Co-Founder of the Trinitarians. He was born in April 1127 in the province of Valois, France as Hugh and died on 4 November 1212 at the Cerfroi monastery, Picardy, France of natural causes.
St Felix was son of the Count of Valois. His mother throughout his youth, did all she could to cultivate in him, a spirit of charity. The unjust divorce between his parents matured a long-formed resolution of leaving the world and, confiding his mother to her pious brother, Thibault, Count of Champagne, he took the Cistercian habit at Clairvaux.
His rare virtues drew on him such admiration that, with St Bernard’s consent, he fled to Italy, where he led an austere life with an aged hermit. At this time he was ordained priest and his old counsellor having died, he returned to France and for many years lived as a solitary at Cerfroid. Here God inspired him with the desire of founding an Order for the redemption of Christian captives and moved St John of Matha (1160-1213), a young nobleman, a native of Provence and doctor of divinity, who was lately ordained priest, having heard of the holy hermit of Cerfroid, sought him out and put himself under his direction. St John proposed to him the project of founding an order for the redemption of captives. Felix, though seventy years of age, readily agreed as it conincided with his similar wish. Together they drew up the rules of the Order of the Holy Trinity.
Many disciples gathered round them and, seeing that the time had come for further action, the two Saints made a pilgrimage to Rome to obtain the confirmation of the Order from Innocent III. Their prayer was granted and the last fifteen years of Felix’s long life were spent in organising and developing his rapidly increasing foundations. When Felix returned to France to establish the order, he was received with great enthusiasm and King Philip Augustus authorised the institute in France and fostered it by benefactions.
Margaret of Blois granted the order 20 acres (81,000 m2) of the wood where Felix had built his first hermitage and on almost the same spot he erected the famous Monastery of Cerfroid, the mother-house of the institute. Within forty years the order possessed six hundred monasteries in every part of Europe. St John was obliged to go to Rome to found a house of the order, the church of which, Santa Maria in Navicella, still stands on the Caelian Hill. St Felix remained in France to look after the interests of the congregation. He founded a house in Paris attached to the church of St Maturinus, which afterwards became famous under Robert Guguin, master general of the order.
St Felix died amongst his fellow Trinitarians at their motherhouse in Cerfroid on 4 November 1212.
Although no bull of his Canonisation is extant, it is the tradition of his institute that he was canonised by Pope Urban IV on 1 May 1262. His feast was kept in the Diocese of Meaux as early as the year 1215. On 21 October 1666, Pope Alexander VII confirmed his status as a saint because of his immemorial cult. In 1679 St Felix’s feast was transferred to 20 November by Pope Innocent XI, when it was placed in the General Roman Calendar because, since 1613, 4 November was the feast day of Saint Charles Borromeo. In 1969, his feast was restored to 4 November, his dies natalis.
Statues of Felix of Valois and John of Matha. Charles Bridge, Prague.