ST JOHN OF MATHA
Born – June 23, 1160, Faucon-de-Barcelonnette
Died – December 17, 1213, Rome
Canonized – Cultus confirmed 21 October 1666 by Pope Alexander VII
Attributes – purse, man in Trinitarian habit, with the white with blue and red cross on the breast, with chains in his hands or at his feet, captives near him, and his mitre at his feet.
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. According to James W. Brodman, the threat of capture, whether by pirates or coastal raiders, or during one of the region’s intermittent wars, was a continuous threat to residents of Catalonia, Languedoc, and the other coastal provinces of medieval Christian Europe. Raids by militias, bands, and armies from both sides was an almost annual occurrence.
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 non-Christians, witnessed the rise of religious orders vowed exclusively to this pious work.
Most of the story of John of Matha’s life is based on legends that circulated after his death. It is reasonably certain that he was born to noble parents at Faucon-de-Barcelonnette, on the borders of Provence on June 23, 1169. He was baptized 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 January 28, 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, 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.
Order of the Most Holy Trinity
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 December 17, 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.
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 December 17, 1213 in Rome in the house of St. Thomas In Formis on the Caelian Hill.
Our Lady of Good Remedy
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 honored 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 October 8. Our Lady of Good Remedy is often depicted as the Virgin Mary handing a bag of money to St. John of Matha.
In 1655, his relics were transferred from Rome to Madrid. His cultus was approved in 1665 and his feast day is December 17.
Mass – Missa ‘Os justi’
ST. JOHN OF MATHA
Confessor and Founder of the Trinitarians
INTROIT – Psalm 36: 30-31
Os justi meditabitur sapientiam, et lingua ejus loquetur judicium: lex Dei ejus in corde ipsius. Alleluia. Ps. 36: 30-31. Noli æmulari in malignantibus: neque zelaveris facientes iniquitatem. Gloria Patri.
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment: the law of his God is in his heart. Ps. Be not emulous of evildoers: nor envy them that work iniquity. Glory be to the Father.
O God, Who sendest us joy year by year on the feast of blessed John, Thy Confessor, which we are now keeping: mercifully grant on this day of his heavenly birth that we may grow like him in deed. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Ecclesiasticus 31: 8-11
Blessed is the man that is found without blemish, and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting: he that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed: and could do evil things, and hath not done them: therefore are his goods established in the Lord, and all the Church of the Saints shall declare his alms.
GRADUAL – Psalm 91: 13, 14, 3
The Just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus in the house of the Lord. To show forth Thy mercy in the morning, and Thy truth in the night.
TRACT – Psalm 111: 1-3
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
GOSPEL – Luke 12.: 35-40
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Let your loins be girt and lamps burning in your hands, and you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching: amen I say to you that he will girt himself and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch. and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be you then also ready, for at what hour you think not the Son of man will come.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 88: 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
In memory of Thy Saints, O Lord, we offer Thee the sacrifice of praise, by which we trust to be freed from both present and future evils. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION – Matthew 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant, whom when his Lord shall come he shall find watching: amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
Refreshed by meat and drink from heaven, O God, we humbly entreat Thee, that we may be protected by the prayers of him in whose memory we have partaken. Through our Lord.