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St. John of Matha


February 8

John of Matha was born at Faucon in Provence of devout and noble parents. When he was celebrating his first Mass, he understood from a vision that he was to devote himself to ransoming those taken captive by infidels. Because of this sign from God, he retired into the wilderness, where he found Felix of Valois, who had been living in that same place for many years.

Here they both devoted themselves most fervently to prayer. After being advised three times in dreams, they went to Rome and obtained the approbation of Pope Innocent III for the new Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the ransoming of captives. They then built their first monastery in the diocese of Meaux, and Felix remained here as superior.

But John returned to Rome with some companions, where Innocent gave them the house, church and hospital of St. Thomas de Formis on the Coelian Hill. He also gave them letters to present to Miramolin, king of Morocco, and thus the work of ransoming captives was auspiciously begun. Then John went to Spain, a great part of which was oppressed under the Saracen yoke. Having moved the hearts of all to pity the captives, he built hospitals and ransomed many prisoners. At length, he returned to Rome; there, broken in health by his toils and by illness, he died in the Lord on December 17, 1213.

Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. I: Advent to Passion Sunday (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1769-1770.

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Epistle and Gospel for February 8