Saint John of Matha

Saint John of Matha

Saint John was born on June 23, 1169, during 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 the raiding bands and were kidnapped and enslaved in terrible numbers.

He was educated at Aix-en-Provence where he picked up exercises for a man of his social rank, such as fencing, grammar, riding etc. According to many traditions, it was here that he first began distributing money to the poor and helping the sick in the local hospitals.

He went to Paris to study theology and was ordained a priest in December of 1192, at the age of 32. 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 left 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. John explained to Saint Felix that it was indeed the very same cross he had seen during his first Mass. Then the two left France for Rome in 1197 to receive approval from the Pope for a new religious order. The approval came on December 17th, 1198, as a preliminary approval to start a new order dedicated completely in honour of the Blessed Trinity for the redemption of Christian captives.

Saint John travelled to Tunisia to bring back incredible numbers of Christian slaves. The first slaves were rescued by the order in 1201 and in two trips to Tunisia. These missions required massive amounts of money and they placed their fundraising efforts totally under the Blessed Mary. Saint John honoured 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.

Other Saints of the Day
1. Saint Olympias
2. Saint Begga
3. Saint Florian
4. Saint Maxentiolus
5. Saint Wivina

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