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Saint John of Matha

Born on June 23, 1169, Saint John came into the world in a period of warfare between the Christian Kingdoms of southern Europe and the Muslim polities of North Africa, Southern France and Spain. Christians living in these lands were frequent targets of Muslim raiding bands and were kidnapped and enslaved in terrible numbers. After an education at Aix-en-Provence where he picked up exercises for a man of his social rank (fencing, grammar, riding etc). According to many traditions it was here that he first began giving his money to the poor and helping the sick in the local hospitals.

Soon after he travelled to Paris where he studied theology. In December of 1192, at the age of 32, Saint John was ordained a priest and prepared his first Mass the following month. On January 28, 1193, while celebrating his first Mass, Saint John suddenly had a vision of Jesus holding two chained captives - one a moor and the other a Christian. In the Christian's hands was a staff with a red and blue cross. The message for Saint John was clear - he was to dedicate his life to ransoming and helping Christians were being captured by the Moors.

He departed the church and went to Saint Felix of Valois, a hermit living in the woods near Meux. Saint Felix taught him many spiritual practices in prayer, retirement and mortification. One day, while the two walked through the woods, Saint John experienced his second vision. A white stag appeared with a red and blue cross between it's antlers. After explaining to Saint Felix that it was indeed the very same cross he had seen during his first Mass, the two left France for Rome in 1197 to receive approval from the Pope for a new religious order. That approval came on December 17th, 1198 as a preliminary approval to start a new order dedicated completely in honor of the Blessed Trinity for the redemption of Christian captives.

The first slaves were rescued by the order in 1201 and in two trips to Tunisia (1202, 1210) Saint John himself travelled to Tunisia, bringing back incredible numbers of Christian slaves. Because these missions required massive amounts of money, they placed their fundraising efforts totally under the Blessed Mary. Saint John honored our Blessed Mother with the title of "Our Lady of Good Remedy" with the feast day celebrated on October 8th every year. Trinitarian tradition holds that he met Saint Francis of Assisi before his death on December 17, 1213 in Rome.

Today the Triniitarian Order's members dedicate their time to promoting the Holy Trinity, assisting immigrants and parish work. The Scapular of the Holy Trinity is worn by Tertiaries and members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Trinity after investment - it is a white scapular with a cross with the transverse shaft blue and the longitudinal shaft red.

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