Trinitarian Order

The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives (Latin: Ordo Sanctissimae Trinitatis et captivorum), also known as the Order of the Most Holy Trinity or the Trinitarians, is a Catholic religious order founded in Cerfroid, outside Paris, in late 12th century. From the very outset, a special dedication to the mystery of the Holy Trinity has been a constitutive element of the order's life.

Papal documents refer to the founder only as Brother John, but tradition identifies him as Saint John de Matha, whose feast day is celebrated on 17 December. The founding-intention for the order was the ransom of Christians held captive by Muslims, a consequence of crusading and of pirating along the Mediterranean coast of Europe.[1] The Order has the initials "O.SS.T." Its distinctive cross of red and blue can be traced to its beginnings.

Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives
Ordo Sanctissimae Trinitatis et Captivorum
Emblem of the Trinitarian Order
MottoGloria Tibi Trinitas et Captivis Libertas
Formation17 December 1198
FounderSaint John of Matha (both Saints John and Felix are seen as the "fathers of the order")
TypeClerical Religious Order (Institute of Consecrated Life)
PurposeThe Glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the Redemption of Captives
HeadquartersCuria General: Via Massimi, 114/c, 00136 Roma, Italia
Membership (2015)
585 (of whom 410 are priests)
Ministro General
Fr. Joseph Narlaly


St Roberts, Trinitarian window004
14th century Trinitarian cross at St Robert's Church, Pannal

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.[2] Raids by militias, bands, and armies from both sides was an almost annual occurrence.[3]

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. [4]


Carreno-de-miranda Orden de los Trinitarios
Juan Carreño de Miranda. Founding of Trinitarian Order (Mass of St John of Matha)

The Order of the Trinitarians (Order of the Holy Trinity and Captives) was founded by St. John de Matha after his vision of Christ with two captives around 1193.[5][6] Pope Innocent III granted the order and its rule approval with his letter Operante divine dispositionis clementia, issued on 17 December 1198.[1] Soon after papal approbation, the Trinitarian ministry to Christian captives was incorporated into the Order's title: Order of the Holy Trinity and of Captives. In addition to the Order's purpose of ransoming Christian captives, each local community of Trinitarians served the people of its area. And so, their ministry included hospitality, care of the sick and poor, churches, education, etc.[1] Eventually, the Trinitarians also assumed the work of evangelization.

Brother John's founding intention expanded quickly beyond the three initial foundations (Cerfroid, Planels, Bourg-la-Reine) into a considerable network of houses committed to the ransom of Christian captives and the works of mercy conducted in their locales. Trinitarian tradition considers St. Felix of Valois co-founder of the Order and companion of John of Matha at Cerfroid, near Paris. In Cerfroid the first Trinitarian community was established and it is considered the mother house of the whole Order.[7]

The first generation of Trinitarians could count some fifty foundations. In northern France, the Trinitarians were known as “Mathurins” because they were based in the church of Saint-Mathurin in Paris from 1228 onwards.[8] Ransoming captives required economic resources. Fundraising and economic expertise constituted important aspects of the Order's life. The Rule's requirement of "the tertia pars", or setting aside one-third of all income for the ransom of Christian captives, became a noted characteristic of the Order.

Louis IX installed a house of their order in his château of Fontainebleau. He chose Trinitarians as his chaplains, and was accompanied by them on his crusades.[4] The Master of the Trinity was taken captive together with Saint Louis after the Battle of Al Mansurah. [9]

Throughout the centuries, the Trinitarian Rule underwent several revisions,[4] notably in 1267 and in 1631. It has been complemented by statutes and constitutions. The thirteenth century was a time of vitality, whereas the following centuries brought periods of difficulty and even decline in some areas. The Council of Trent (1545–1563) was a major turning-point in the life of the Church. Its twenty-fifth session dealt with regulars and nuns and the reform of religious orders. Reforming interests and energies manifested themselves among Trinitarians in France with the foundation at Pontoise, north of Paris, during the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Reform-minded Trinitarians in Spain first established the movement known as the Recollection and then, under the leadership of St. John Baptist of the Conception,[7] a movement at Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real) known as the Spanish Discalced Trinitarians at the very end of the sixteenth century. Far-reaching periods of growth and development followed this rebirth.

Emblem Trinitarian Order Rome
Stone shield of the Trinitarian Order on the façade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1638-1641) in Rome.

In succeeding centuries, European events such as revolution, government suppression and civil war had very serious consequences for the Trinitarian Order and it declined significantly. During the last decades of the nineteenth century, the Trinitarians began to grow slowly in Italy and Spain. Its members dedicated themselves to fostering and promoting devotion to the Holy Trinity, evangelising non-Christians, assisting immigrants, educating the young, and to parish work.

The Trinitarian Family

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 nuns; the Trinitarian Sisters of Valence; the Trinitarian Sisters of Rome, Valencia, Madrid, Mallorca, and Seville; the Oblates of the Most Holy Trinity; the Third Order Secular (tertiaries) and other Trinitarian laity.[7] 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: the Third Order Secular, the Trinitarian Movement, Confraternities, etc.[10]

Like the Jesuits, Trinitarians also pledge not to seek promotion within the Church hierarchy. If promotion is offered, however, it is accepted.


The Glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the ransom of Christian Captives. Along with the Order’s mission of ransoming Christian captives, each Trinitarian Community served the people of its area by performing works of mercy; redemption and mercy are at the center of the Trinitarian charism.[1]

Our Lady of Good Remedy

Our Lady of Good Remedy is the patroness of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity. Devotion to Mary under this ancient title is widely known in Europe and Latin America. Her feast day is celebrated on 8 October.[11]

Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity

The Scapular of the Holy Trinity is a devotional scapular associated with the Confraternity of The Holy Trinity and the Third Order Secular of the Most Holy Trinity. It is a white scapular with a cross of which the transverse shaft is blue and the longitudinal shaft red.[12] It is worn by Tertiaries as well as members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Trinity (or other Trinitarian associations that make use of the scapular) after investment with this scapular. It is a sign of consecration to the Holy Trinity and of fraternity.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "About the Trinitarians: Our Roots". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  2. ^ Brodman, James William, Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain:The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier, 1986
  3. ^ Ibn Khaldun, Histoire des Berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique septentrionale, ed. Paul Casanova and Henri Pérès, trans. William MacGuckin, baron de Slane (Paris, 1925-56), 3: 116-17
  4. ^ a b c "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Order of Trinitarians". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  5. ^ Henry Charles Lea, 2002, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, Adamant Media Corp. ISBN 1-4021-6108-5 page 497
  6. ^ The Order of the Holy Trinity and Captives: Andrew Witko 2008
  7. ^ a b c "Welcome into the Home Page of". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  8. ^ Alban Butler, Paul Burns, Butler's Lives of the Saints (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000), 5.
  9. ^ Jean de Joinville Memoirs of Louis IX
  10. ^ "THE TRINITARIAN WAY". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  11. ^ "Our Lady Of Good Remedy". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  12. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Scapular". Retrieved 2017-06-19.


  • Witko, Andrew. The Order of the Holy Trinity and Captives, 2008

External links

Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians

The Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians (Spanish: Convento de las Monjas Trinitarias Descalzas) is a convent located in Madrid, Spain. It was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1943.Writer Miguel de Cervantes was buried at the convent in 1616. His remains were temporarily transferred elsewhere in 1673 during rebuilding, and were then lost until forensic scientists discovered them in 2015.

DeMatha Catholic High School

DeMatha Catholic High School, named after Saint John of Matha, is a four-year Catholic high school for young men located in Hyattsville, Maryland, USA.

A member of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, DeMatha is under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Easton Priory

Easton Priory was a Catholic priory of the Trinitarian Order in Wiltshire, England from 1234 to 1536.

Holy Trinity College Bromley

Holy Trinity College Bromley (formerly Holy Trinity Convent) was an all-girls infant, junior and senior school from the mid 19th century to December 2005 located in the London Borough of Bromley, England.

It was a direct grant aided grammar school until the 1980s when it became purely independent.

It was run by the Trinitarian Sisters of Valence order of Roman Catholic nuns along with a sister school in Kidderminster (which reverted to secular control in the 1980s.) The mother house of the Trinitarian order is in France.

The school closed officially on 15 December 2005, although by this time there weren't any pupils left in the school as they had all been relocated to various other, mainly independent, schools in the area.

Although the school is now closed there is still a Trinitarian convent on the site, living in a new convent building. The site has now been redeveloped for housing.

Holy Trinity School, Kidderminster

Holy Trinity School is a co-educational free school located in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, offering education to children from 4 years up to 18 years of age. The school operates under a charitable status, governed by a board of Governors. A free school is a non-selective school that is funded by the taxpayer but is independent of state control. However, it is subject to inspection by Ofsted and is accountable to the Secretary of State for Education.

Children who enter at age 4 are able to continue their school education until it ends at age 18 years. The school has separate Primary, Senior and Sixth Form sections.

Established Since 1903: The main building is a former Victorian private house known as Elderslie. Founded in 1903 as the Holy Trinity Convent School by a group of Catholic nuns of the Trinitarian Sisters of Valence from France. A young nun from that period eventually became the Mother Superior for the sister school in Bromley, Kent. it became secularised in 1985 and in 1986 it was renamed Holy Trinity School, under the ownership of a group of parents who formed the Board of Trustees. In 2014 Holy Trinity became a free school, and is now state-funded, and free to attend. The Nursery became a separate entity in 2014 and is now known as Little Trinity, providing day care for children from 2 – 5 years.

List of Ministers General of the Trinitarian Order

This is a list of the Ministers General of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of the Captives.

Master general

Master general or Master-general can refer to:

the Superior general of certain orders and congregations, such as

the Crosiers

the Dominicans (Master of the Order of Preachers)

the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

the Order of Saint Lazarus

the Society of the Holy Cross

the Trinitarian Order

certain secular titles and offices, such as Master-General of the OrdnanceThe title was also sometimes used interchangeably with the other title of Grand Master, especially when referring to chivalric orders in the Middle Ages. In some chivalric orders, for example the Order of Saint Lazarus, this title was used by the Boigny Knights under the protection of the French monarchy so as to bypass a number of Papal Bulls which were intended to abolish the Order itself. Roman historians Ammianus and Zozimus record that the Master General Vietor led the center column of three columns of infantry to push the Roman march through the country and into battle.

Even today, the Order of Saint Lazarus, albeit fragmented into a number of varying factions and obediences, one of the Lazarite Groupings headquartered in London with Grand Priories and Commanderies in various countries, is led by a Master-general Fra John Baron von Hoff GCLJ GCMLJ who was unanimously appointed to the title by the Knights in Council of the United Grand Priories.

Old Cathedral of Saint John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois

The Trinitarian Church or Trinity Church, full name Church of Saint John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois (Slovak: Kostol trinitárov, Trinitársky kostol or Trojičný kostol or Kostol svätého Jána z Mathy a svätého Felixa z Valois; incorrectly Holy Trinity Church (Kostol Najsvätejšej Trojice)), is a Baroque-style church in Bratislava's Old Town borough, on the Župné námestie square.

The church was built on the site of the older Church of St. Michael, which was demolished in 1529, along with the settlement of St. Michael, during the Ottoman wars, along with other suburbs, so as to see better the attacking Turks. The Trinitarian Order started construction of the church in 1717 and it was sanctified in 1727, although work in the interior continued into the first half of the 18th century.

Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravacino

Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino is a 1609 oil on canvas painting by El Greco, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It shows Hortensio Félix Paravicino, a monk of the Trinitarian Order and major Spanish poet who was also a close friend of the painter. He is shown in the Trinitarian habit.

Rosary-based prayers

Rosary-based prayers are Christian prayers said on a set of rosary beads, among other cords. These prayers recite specific word sequences on different parts of the rosary beads. They may be directed at Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or God the Father.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

The church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (Saint Charles at the Four Fountains), also called San Carlino, is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy. The church was designed by the architect Francesco Borromini and it was his first independent commission. It is an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture, built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Trinitarians, an order dedicated to the freeing of Christian slaves. He received the commission in 1634, under the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, whose palace was across the road. However, this financial backing did not last and subsequently the building project suffered various financial difficulties. It is one of at least three churches in Rome dedicated to San Carlo, including San Carlo ai Catinari and San Carlo al Corso.

San Crisogono, Rome

San Crisogono is a church in Rome (rione Trastevere) dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus. It was one of the tituli, the first parish churches of Rome, and was probably built in the 4th century under Pope Silvester I (314–335), rebuilt in the 12th century by John of Crema, and again by Giovanni Battista Soria, funded by Scipione Borghese, in the early 17th century.

The area beneath the sacristy was investigated by Fr. L. Manfredini and Fr. C. Piccolini in 1907. They found remains of the first church (see below). After they had made this discovery, the area was excavated and studied.

The church is served by Trinitarians. Among the previous Cardinal Priests was Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci (1853–1878), elected Pope Leo XIII.

San Tommaso in Formis

The church of San Tommaso in Formis is a small church in Rome, situated on the Caelian Hill.

Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci fuori Porta Cavalleggeri

Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci fuori Porta Cavalleggeri (Saint Mary of Graces at the Furnaces outside the Cavalleggeri Gate), is a Baroque style, Roman Catholic parish and titular church located at Piazza di Santa Maria alle Fornaci, south of Vatican City and north of the San Pietro train station in the Aurelio quarter. It was made a cardinalate deaconry by Pope John Paul II on 25 May 1985, and assigned it to Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The see became vacant on 2 June 2014 after the death of Cardinal Lourdusamy. On November 11, 2016 it was announced that Mario Zenari will succeed him.

Santissima Trinità a Via Condotti

Santissima Trinità a Via Condotti or Santissima Trinità degli Spagnoli is a church in Rome at the start of via Condotti in the Campo Marzio district. It is one of the national churches of Spain in Rome.

Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity

The Congregation Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, also known as the Trinitarian Sisters of Rome, is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of religious sisters based in Rome, were founded in 1762.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, Vienna

St. Francis of Assisi Church (German: Kirche zum heiligen Franz von Assisi), also known as the Emperor's Jubilee Church (German: Kaiserjubiläumskirche) and the Mexico Church (German: Mexikokirche), is a Basilica-style Catholic church in Vienna, Austria. Built between 1898 and 1910, it was consecrated in 1913. It is located on the Mexikoplatz in Vienna's Second District, Leopoldstadt, and is administered by the Order of the Holy Trinity.

Trinitarian Sisters of Valence

The Congregation Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, also known as the Trinitarian Sisters of Valence, is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of religious sisters based in Lyon, France, founded in 1660.

Virgin of Los Remedios

The Virgin of Los Remedios (Spanish: La Virgen de los Remedios) or Our Lady of Los Remedios (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, Spanish: Nuestra Señora de los Remedios) is a title of the Virgin Mary developed by the Trinitarian Order, founded in the late 12th century. The devotion became tied to the Reconquista of Spain, then still at its height. In the following century it spread to other parts of Europe. When Spain began the exploration and conquest of the Americas, it was a favorite devotion of the Spanish conquistadores. It remains a popular devotion in Spain and Latin America.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.