Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives

Trinitarian Saints

Saints From Our Order

St. John of Matha

John de Matha was born on June 24, 1154 (or 1160) in a small village in the French Alps called Faucon de Barcelonnette. Coming from a family vassal to the Counts of Barcelona, he received a classical education at the college of Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and finally Paris, the intellectual center of all Christendom. There he earned the degree of Doctor of Theology and taught at the Cathedral School, hence the title “Master Theologian.” Deeply religious and pious, he wanted to devote himself entirely to God and His service, asking Him for a sign to show him the way forward. Ordained a priest by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris and builder of Notre Dame, he celebrated his first Mass on January 28, 1193.

At the time of the consecration, John received the long-awaited response. An anonymous writer of the 13th century recounts the event as follows, “Having arrived on the day of his first mass, he begged the Bishop of Paris, the abbot of St. Victor and his master Prevostine that they would attend the celebration. Also present at the ceremony were all the great people of Paris. During the celebration of the Eucharist, at the time of the consecration, he again pleaded with the Lord to graciously show him which religious order he should enter for his salvation. As he raised his eyes to heaven he saw the glory of God and the Lord holding in his hands two men with chains on their feet; of the two, one was black and deformed, the other white and spindly.”

This text well describes the inspiration that would drive him to leave the university to found a new order. John de Matha will have this vision depicted on a mosaic that still exists in the portal of the Roman hospital of St. Thomas in Formis. Many contemporaries corroborated the common belief of divine action in the creation of the Order, and Pope Innocent III himself confirmed it. Thus Trinitarians will always be aware that their Order was founded by a direct and personal intervention of God.

John joined a group of hermits in the forest of Cerfroid, 70 kilometers northeast of Paris. Far from the noise of the capital, sharing their lives and enthusiastic about the foundation project, these anchorites offered their person and possessions to form the first nucleus of the future community. John de Matha’s religious and apostolic ideal also attracted benefactors sensitive to the suffering of captive Christians. Countess Marguerite de Blois, offered him a first domus in the land of Cerfroid, Robert de Planels entrusted him with a church, and Maria Panateria gave him a residence.

Eager to obtain ecclesial confirmation of his project, John de Matha traveled to Rome.
Innocent III, deeply concerned about the fate of captive Christians, sent him back to Paris to obtain further information, offering his protection (May 16, 1198).
In Paris, John refined the rule of life written with his first companions.
This text was to express the spiritual and apostolic experience of the Order, its mission, vocation, physiognomy, spirit and evangelical style.
Having made the necessary corrections, the document was addressed to the Vicar of Christ.
John then went a second time to Rome, where Innocent III acknowledged that John’s proposal was grounded in Christ and that he and his brothers sought only “the interest of Christ.”
The pontiff approved the rule and the Order of the Holy Trinity and Slaves, which could then associate the laity with the Order’s mission.
On March 8, 1199, Innocent III sent a letter of recommendation to Miramolino, king of Morocco, in which he praised the Trinitarians and their works.

Thus, soon after its recognition, the Order organized a redemption expedition.
It is very likely that the founder himself went to the land of Islam to make this first journey of redemption of Christian captives.
Passing through Marseille, John founded a house there.
The city would serve as a port of embarkation for the redeemed and a port of disembarkation for many redeemed Christians, thus symbolizing freedom and a newfound homeland for thousands of men torn from prison.
Next, John traveled to Arles, Aragon, where a certain Pedro de Belvis offered him a tower and land.
He obtained letters from local lords such as Count Guillaume, Prince of Orange, Hugues and Raymond de Baux, who guaranteed seigniorial immunity and protection of property and religious.
Far from being content with this, in 1203 John again asked the pope to extend his protection to the new foundations.
During the disputes, John always showed himself as a person seeking conciliation even at the cost of giving up his legitimate rights.
He continued his work of founding houses throughout Spain (Toledo, Segovia, Burgos…).

Back in Rome, John asked the pope one last time to protect all of the Order’s property.
The latter offered him perpetual possession of the hospital of St. Thomas in Formis in Rome with the attached properties.
John established his residence there, thus bearing the official title of “minister of St. Thomas in Formis.”
One tradition reports that the Poverello of Assisi would have been received in this hospital and met John de Matha.
The latter lived his last years in Rome and died on December 17, 1213.
His body rested in St. Thomas in Formis; on the night of March 19-20, 1655, it was stolen and taken to Madrid.
His immemorial cult was recognized and confirmed by Alexander VII.
His relics are currently in the newly built church that bears his name in Salamanca, Spain.

Written by Fr. Thierry Knecht

Saint Felix de Valois

John de Matha had to gather a number of collaborators for the foundation of his Order. Documents of the time name some of them as Felix, Minister of Marseilles, Boniface, Osbert, Matthias, Vitale, etc. A centuries-old tradition assigned an essential role to the hermits of Cerfroid and especially to their leader, a certain Felix of Valois ,who would earn the title of co-founder.

Born in Amiens on April 9, 1127, he received the name Hugh. Son of Raoul I of Vermandois and Eleanor de Champagne, he belonged to the Valois line. Educated by Bernard of Clairvaux, he took part in the Second Crusade. On his return he renounced his titles and all privileges and retired to the desert of Cerfroid. To express this change of life, he took the name Félix. He met John de Matha and enthusiastically offered his person and possessions to the Trinitarian project. During a conversation with John de Matha near a spring, they encountered a deer, which bore between its antlers the red and blue cross, identical to the one John saw during his first Mass. He accompanied John to Rome to obtain the Order’s approval. Returning from the first redemption expedition completed in the spring of 1199, John made it his business to expand the Order in Europe and Felice to take charge of the internal administration and especially the spiritual formation of the candidates. From 1200 to 1208 he was minister of Marseilles and feeling the end approaching, he decided to return to Cerfroid. It was on the night of September 7-8, 1212, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, that he was blessed by an apparition of the Virgin and the heavenly choir singing the office. He died on November 4 and was probably buried at Cerfroid.

Some authors try to deny its existence, others on the contrary exaggerate the legendary story. We cannot present even in a few lines all the arguments of the different sides, but to silence the figure of Felix of Valois in the history and especially in the spirituality of our religious family would not be worthy of a critical and historical spirit. Entire generations of Trinitarians, and at the forefront, our reformer, John Baptist of the Conception, recognized in this religious the contemplative dimension of the Order.

We must humbly acknowledge that the documentation proving his existence and worship at the origin of the Order is rather weak. But the silence of the documents, or lack thereof, can under no circumstances serve as evidence for his detractors. Tradition carried out its work aided by popular hagiography especially from the 15th century onward. It has bequeathed us a figure that can be embellished but wonderfully expresses the apostle’s need of God for his mission, the redeemer for the redemption of his brethren. Destroying the legendary stories built around Felix of Valois, like so many other saints, is certainly easy and even childish, but neither his influence on the spirituality of entire generations of religious and lay people nor his existence in a scientific way can be denied .

His immemorial cult was recognized by Alexander VII, and is celebrated today, November 4.

Written by Fr. Thierry Knecht

St. John the Baptist of the Conception

St. John Baptist of the Conception has gone down in history as the reformer of the Order of the Holy Trinity and the slaves.
For his writings he is among the great mystics of Spain’s Golden Age.
He was born into a family of eight children in Almodóvar del Campo (Ciudad Real) on July 10, 1561.
His father, Marcos García Xijón, is related to Saint John of Avila.
His mother’s name was Isabel López Rico.
In his adolescence he attended the Discalced Carmelites of Almodóvar, whose habit he longed to wear.
But her wishes were not granted, even with the approval of her family and the acceptance of the Carmelites.

In June 1576 he met St. Teresa of Jesus in his village, visiting the Carmelites, who were staying at his family home.
He later read with interest the saint’s books, to which he would refer with filial devotion.
He studied philosophy for two years at the universities of Baeza and Toledo.
At the age of 19, he donned the Trinitarian habit in Toledo, at which time he began to call himself Juan Bautista Rico.
By making his religious profession (June 29, 1581), he embraced the life program of the Trinitarians of the ancient observance.
He did four years of theology at the famous University of Alcalá de Henares, at the end of which he was ordained a priest (1585).
Thereafter he spent 16 years, with no intention to reform, carrying out the ministry of preaching as the official preacher of several convents (La Guardia, Membrilla, Seville) with great fruit for his listeners.
During his years in Seville (1594-1596) he enjoyed high esteem in and outside the convent.
He had an excellent philosophical-theological education and admirable moral and human qualities that earned him recognition as “the theologian” and as one of the best preachers of the Trinitarian Order.
His conscience and the voice of his superiors and brothers assured him that this was the apostolate God was asking of him.

The Trinitarians, while welcoming the reform directives of the Council of Trent, were reluctant to establish radical reform in the Order, as St. Teresa did with the Carmelites.
Only belatedly (1594) did the Spanish provinces decree, under pressure from King Philip II, the establishment of a few houses of recollection with more austere lifestyles.
The first recollection house was founded in Valdepeñas.
John Baptist of the Conception, although happy with this reform measure, refused to embrace it because of his poor health and his distrust of the inoperative attitude of his superiors.
In Seville, where he stood out as the convent’s official preacher, he tested his strength and excluded the rigor of the Reformation for himself.
In January 1596, on the feast of St. Agnes, patroness of the Order, the first desire to be recollected arose in his heart and mind, “but,” he admits, “I clearly resisted it.

God had to intervene with extraordinary grace to change his life and push him to enter the house of the recollects of Valdepeñas (February 1596).
One day when the young preacher left Seville for very human reasons, God’s irrevocable will manifested itself to him under the sign of a raging storm.
And that is when, thus cornered, he had to decide once and for all.
And he surrendered to God’s will: “Lord, -he said-, I will reform in Valdepeñas.”
And he did so with full knowledge and with his whole self: “The storm has passed and I have stayed behind with a vow and with an obligation and with desire and will.”
This is an unconditional and irrevocable fiat.
He arrived in Valdepeñas (Feb. 26, 1596) “to be truly barefoot” and to embrace the Primitive Rule in all its radicality.
As house minister (May 1596-summer 1597), he directed his efforts to provide the community with a solid spiritual foundation.
He insisted on a life of poverty, humility, penance, and fraternity.

When he found himself abandoned by his superiors, who were enemies of the reform, he began his journey to Rome in October 1597 with a fundamental purpose: to seek confirmation of the Primitive Rule, that is, approval of a model of life in conformity with the Rule of St. John of Matha.
During his stay in Rome (1598-1599) he completed the refinement of his spirit according to God’s designs.
There, while awaiting the papal verdict and having come to the point of abandoning the reform project and even the Trinitarian habit due to painful setbacks, persecution, hostility, discouragement, attacks of the evil one and spiritual conflicts, at that very anxious moment God asked him for his personal option between the recollected life of a Carmelite convent and the continuation of his work for the reform.
Finally, on Aug. 20, 1599, Clement VIII promulgated the brief Ad militantis Ecclesiae regimen, by which he erected the “Congregation of the Reformed and Discalced Brothers of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity,” committed to the faithful observance of the Primitive Rule.
In the writing that narrates the itinerary of the reform process, he insists that the Trinitarian reform is the exclusive work of God.

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1599, John Baptist, already in Valdepeñas, rendered obedience to the papal delegate, Carmelite Elías de San Martín, superior authority of the Discalced Trinitarians until they came to have eight houses, and assumed his new religious name: “of the Conception.”
Beginning with his reformed profession on December 18, 1600 in the house of Valdepeñas, he devoted himself to founding new convents, obtaining the eighth in Valladolid, with which an independent province could already be established.
Thus, the chapter held in Valladolid (8-11-1605) elected him provincial minister.
Around the same dates he had his first contacts with the Duke of Lerma, who would be his secular protective arm from then on, also gaining the support of Felipe III.
During his three-year term as provincial minister (1605-1608), while defending the Reformation from numerous attacks, he continued the founding activity.
The Greek cross, rectangular in shape, that he imposed on his barefoot habit brought him a trial in the nunciature for denouncing the footwear, which ended with a ruling in his favor.

He personally promoted the foundation of 16 convents, out of a total of 18 (including one in Rome).
The year 1612 he supported the creation of the first community of Discalced Trinitarian nuns in Madrid.
In the Trinitarian convent of Córdoba, which he founded, he died on February 14, 1613.
His sacred remains are venerated in this convent.
He was beatified by Pius VII on September 26, 1819, and canonized by Paul VI on May 25, 1975.

He left us a rich literary production, largely a reflection of his elevated spiritual experience, along the lines of St. Teresa of Jesus and other great mystics of his time.
He is ascetic and mystic, popular preacher and theologian, reformer and teacher of the spirit.
Therefore, his books reflect that variety of vital facets in an original body of literature.
To learn about his experience at the forefront of the Trinitarian Reformation, it is essential to read his first writing, A Memoir of the Origins of Trinitarian Climbing.

Written by Fr. Juan Pujana


The “Father Ave Maria” in the service of the poor (1552-1624)

The ecclesial and social significance of the Trinitarian Saint Simon de Rojas in his time and for the history of the Church is exceptional.
He was an undisputed protagonist in the religious, cultural and even political landscape between the 16th and 17th centuries.
Friend and counselor of the Spanish kings Philip III and Philip IV, as well as of Queen Margarita of Austria, confessor of Queen Isabella of Bourbon and Princess Anne of Austria -later Queen of France and mother of the Sun King-, teacher of princes Don Carlos and Don Fernando, Father Rojas was esteemed by the greats of the Madrid court and occupied a prominent position of which, however, he refused to take any worldly profit.
Father Simone was always the poorest friar in the convent of the Holy Trinity in Madrid, refused the use of the royal chariot to which he was entitled, walked on foot, always surrounded by the poor children of the street who loved him so much, among other things because he spent on bread and gluttony for them so much of the offerings that the great lords handed him.

St. Simon’s spirituality and apostolate are marked by two characteristics: worship of Mary and service to the poor.
His exuberant Marian devotion, especially to the Name of Mary, was to meet with great success when he requested and obtained from Pope Gregory XV the liturgical feast of the Name of Mary for the Trinitarians and the primatial diocese of Toledo in 1622.
In honor of Mary and for the asistence of the poor, St. Simon founded, in 1611, the Congregation of the Slaves of the Holy Name of Mary, which still exists as the oldest charity institution of those that exist today in the capital of Spain.
The liturgical feast of the Holy Name of Mary, still celebrated by the Trinitarians on September 12 each year is a memorial of the Marian devotion of the man who has been called “the Spanish Saint Bernard.”

St. Simon did his utmost to relieve the physical and spitual miseries of all kinds of poor people, prostitutes, abandoned infants, the sick, beggars, Christian slaves in Algeria, maimed soldiers, elderly priests living miserably…
Every Tuesday he visited prisoners in the jail near Madrid’s Main Square, while on Mondays and Fridays he went to hospitals to visit the most abandoned sick, bringing them some help.
His favorites were the poor.
When King Philip IV made it clear to him that it was not convenient for the queen’s confessor to go on the streets in the company of the poor, the saint quietly replied, “If Your Majesty wants to seek another confessor for the queen, go ahead and quietly. Because if it is true that kings and the poor cost Christ the same blood, if I have to choose, I prefer to be with the poor. On that occasion Philip IV said these words to Isabella of Bourbon, which have remained famous in history: “If there were a holier man in my kingdoms than Father Rojas I would appoint him your confessor, but I cannot find him.”
When the Queen forced her confessor to accompany her to the Palace of Aranjuez for the summer period, Saint Simon would pass by with a sack in his hand during the royal meals, picking up various dishes from the tables where the great ones of the Court were seated; he would load everything onto some donkeys and go to the nearby town of Ocaña, distributing all that goodness among the inmates of the prison there.

He fought against trafficking in people.
Making use of his being the Queen’s confessor, he established a safety net for girls who wanted to leave prostitution.
First, he would gather them in a church for a sermon, where he would invite them to change their lives, offering guarantees for their safety against the gangsters who were getting rich from prostitution.
The girls who gave a breakthrough were distributed to the homes of people trusted by St. Simon; a worthy accommodation, a job-spending domestic service-and even a groom were found for many of them.
The saint also cared for many infants abandoned by poor parents, seeking out people and institutions to take them in, and offering sums of money to help them with their needs.

St. Simon died on September 29, 1624 in his convent of the Holy Trinity “of the shoehorned” in Madrid.
He was painted, dead, by Velazquez, and by other painters among the best of the day.
He enjoyed an extraordinary reputation for holiness when he was alive, and this fame grew after his death because of the many graces and miracles with which God confirmed his sanctity of life.

When Father Rojas was canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, the then Minister General of the Order, Fr. José Gamarra, defined St. Simon as “the complete Trinitarian.”
His life represents the incarnation of the Trinitarian charism in the concreteness of daily life and the extraordinary circumstances in which his life was spent.

His liturgical feast falls on September 28.
His body was in the Chapel of Ave Maria, in Madrid, until 1936, when it was lost following the desecration of this chapel during the persecution suffered by the Spanish Church at that time.
Part of his body remains in the Cathedral of Valladolid, erected on the site of the house where Saint Simon de Rojas was born.

Written by Fr. Pedro Aliaga Asensio

St. Michael of the Saints

Patron of Trinitarian Youth

“Everything Christ touches becomes young, becomes new, is full of life” (Pope Francis, Christus vivit, 1) is what we can confirm in the life of the Patron of Trinitarian Youth, St. Michael of the Saints (1591-1625 ).
At the time of St. Michael of the Saints’ baptism, his father Enrique Argimir noted in the family notebook, “On September 29, feast of the Glorious Archangel St. Michael, of the year 1591, Monserrat Mitjana, my wife, gave birth to a son.
In the baptismal font he received the names Miguel, José, Jerónimo.
May God make him a good Christian, to His honor and glory.”

He had lost his mother at age 4 and his father at age 11.
His father, a notary public and mayor of Vich.
Seeing Michael’s qualities, he wanted him to apply himself to his studies from a very young age.
His Latin teacher remembers him as jovial and having a strong influence among his peers, and says that Michael helped him teach Latin to those who needed it most.
“When he was eight years old,” says one of his friends, “he excited us with his idea of going to Montseny to live as a hermit.

Michael dreamed of being a religious and, faced with the persistent rejection of his guardians and older brothers, matured a plan to escape from Vich to Barcelona.
In August 1603 he realized his plan and presented himself at the Trinitarians Church.
In 1607, during his novitiate in Zaragoza, barefoot Trinitarian Fr. Manuel de la Cruz came to stay at the convent for his priestly ordination.
From that time on he began to beg permission to move to the Reform.

We know that our saint manifested throughout his life a deep sense of gratitude to those who had welcomed him and initiated him into religious life.
His companion Don Diego de la Madre de Dios writes of his life in the Chronicles of the Discalced: “During the six years in which he studied at the Universities of Baeza and Salamanca he was a prodigy of holiness, skillfully combining active and contemplative life.”
When asked why he spent so much time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, San Miguel de los Santos repeated, “It is because He has chained me.”
From a very young age mystical phenomena manifested in him, one of the most remarkable refers to the exchange of hearts with the Heart of Jesus, our Saint was very devoted to St. Catherine of Siena.

In Baeza, a philosophy student at that university, he underwent a special ordeal when a false accusation was made against him -we do not know what it consisted of-, which led to a temporary sentence to prison at the convent.
Matías, who visited him daily, did not notice any kind of discouragement.
On the contrary, he always found him in good spirits.
“Here,” he said, “I can devote all my time to prayer.
To those charged with investigating what he was accused of, he replied, “If God abandons me, I am capable of worse things.”
Eventually, his complete innocence was discovered.
And the slanderers, moved by the charity of Fr. Michael of the Saints, who responded to evil with good, changed their lives.

He was not only pious and intelligent, he was also ingenious in inventing new ways of apostolate that touched the heart.
Being a student at the University of Salamanca, while praying, he came up with the idea of doing penance in the public square during carnival.

He convinced several religious to participate in this initiative, including Fr. Marcos, a fervent preacher.
Preceded by a large Crucifix, the retinue formed, consisting of six religious in penitent dress, who scourged themselves while wearing a crown of thorns on their heads.
Arriving at the Plaza de San Juan, Fr. Marcos got up on a stool and began preaching to the celebrating crowd dressed in the strangest clothes.
At this St. Michael of the Saints let out a formidable cry and went toward the Crucifix, remaining suspended in ecstasy.
Shock ran through the crowd of young students.
The carnivalesque orgy turned into a procession of penance toward the church of the Trinitarian Barefoot Convent.
From then on they gave him the nickname “Brother Michael, the soul hunter.”

He was very affable and, above all, he did not like to see anyone sad.
He would say, “We must serve God with joy.
Sadness causes a lot of damage to the body and soul.
One witness says, “The continuous joy and peace in his face were an expression of what was happening in his heart, of his ardent thirst for God.”
Witnesses of the Cause for Canonization tell how he could discover poor and lonely people whom he discreetly helped, bringing them food under his cloak.

He died peacefully at the age of Christ, more than from illness, he died consumed by the love that burned in his heart.
Valladolid, April 10, 1625.
In his Treatise on the Tranquility of the Soul, he left us outlined the way to be saints, it is the same way he walked in his life.
His mystical writings that give us the luminous signs of the path of identification with Christ are considered by experts to be of great value, in the style comparable to the wonderful writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus.

The miracle for his canonization was received by a young Trinitarian conventual confrere of Santa Maria alle Fornaci, Father Anthony of the Mother of God.
This young Trinitarian devoted himself body and soul to the canonization of St. Michael of the Saints.
The long-awaited day of canonization arrived.
Pope Pius IX also canonized the Japanese Martyrs, it was June 8, 1862.
The ceremony was attended by 286, including cardinals and bishops, something never seen before in similar rites.
The Vatican chronicles of that day give news of a hundred Trinitarian robes in St. Peter’s Square.

Written by Fr. Isidore Murciego Murciego

Blessed of our Order

Blessed Elisabetta Canori Mora

She was born in Rome into a wealthy family in 1774 and died there in 1825. A mother of four daughters, two of whom died at an early age, a wife betrayed, humiliated and mocked, she found in prayer the strength to take the reins of the family, take care of her daughters, continue to love her unfaithful husband, assist him in his illness, protect him when he was in danger of being imprisoned and dying at the hands of unscrupulous people, and, above all, worked for his conversion.

Elizabeth left a Diary that is a masterpiece of inestimable spiritual value, and about her situation, she writes: "The Lord made it known to me that I should not abandon these three souls, that is, her two daughters and her spouse, while through me he wanted to save them."

And she offers herself as a victim of love for the salvation of her daughters and her unfaithful and abusive husband; she is aware that no one is saved alone and that God has entrusted each one with the responsibility of the other's salvation in order to carry out His plan of love, therefore, Elizabeth endures her husband's contempt and harsh behavior and does not give in to the request to give him approval for her to date her lover.

In the Papal States there were severe penalties for adultery, and Christopher, in order to avoid them, tries to get Elisabeth to sign a declaration, but she is unwilling in any way to endorse his infidelity, and cornered, the husband wields a knife against his wife, but his arm remains suspended in the air stopped by a superior force.

Elizabeth is willing to forget and forgive but not to facilitate her spouse's adultery. A crucified saint is her shield of defense when, in order to save Christopher and free him from the imminent danger of being imprisoned for debt, she sells the valuables of her dowry and furniture to satisfy her creditors; on that occasion she goes to speak personally with each of them asking for patience and forgiveness for her husband and above all she begs them to be content with what she can give.

The family is reduced to extreme poverty because of her husband's debauchery, therefore, she is forced to leave the beautiful house and go to live in her in-laws' house.

In the new situation Elizabeth does everything to cause as little disturbance as possible, lending herself in the most menial jobs to thank her in-laws and sisters-in-law for their hospitality. At the same time she tries to affectively lead her husband back to the domestic hearth.

Heroically Elizabeth also prays to the Lord for the salvation of her husband's lover.

Thus begins the journey of ascending her state of union with Christ whom she loves with all her strength; He will be her refuge, her comfort and her companion on the way, never neglecting her family, which, fatherless, also suffers from lack of livelihood.

Day after day, in the presence of the Lord, in an atmosphere of prayer and recollection, trusting only in God's help and assistance, Elizabeth offers her sufferings for the sanctity of her family.

Written by Giovanna Cossu Merendino

Blessed Marcos Criado

Marcos Criado Guelamo, better known as Blessed Mark Criado, was born on April 25, 1522 in Andújar (Jaén) and his earthly existence came to a violent end because of his faith in the "Sweet Name of Jesus" in La Peza (Granada) on September 24, 1569. He professed as a Trinitarian Shod (OSST), distinguished himself for his humility and ability to preach, and was martyred for the Gospel in Las Alpujarras during a Moorish revolt.

Marco Criado was born into a large family with deep Christian roots; he was the youngest of his siblings, the son of Juan Criado Notario, a native of Lahiguera (then La Higuera de Andújar), and María or Marina Guelamo Pasillas, a pious woman from Andujar. From a very young age he attended the conventual church of the Trinitarians in his hometown.

After his mother's death, he made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady de la Cabeza in the Sierra Morena to pray and commend his soul to God. Following tradition, he slept at the shrine, asking the Virgin to tell him if it was divine will to enter the Trinitarian Order. Marco Criado, embraced the designs of the Eternal Father and with generosity and humility followed his vocation. He made his novitiate in the convent of Andújar in 1535. His father also decided to enter religious life and join the Franciscan Order, in the convent of Arruzafa in Córdoba.

After being ordained as a priest, he was later assigned by his superiors to the convents of Andújar, Jaén, and Úbeda, where he was given the post of preacher. In Úbeda he combined this mission with the office of sacristan, a task to which he devoted himself body and soul to satisfy his yearning for service to the community with humility and simplicity. Several times he resigned from the highest offices in the Order because of his high esteem for a life of evangelical simplicity.

It happened that Archbishop Pedro Guerrero of Granada, concerned about the serious insurrections taking place in the area of the Alpujarras of Granada, met with the bishops of Almería, Guadix and Málaga, who agreed, first of all, to "send priests learned in preaching and exemplary in their Christian life to the areas most affected by the Moorish uprisings, so that they might devote themselves with zeal, to resemble the evangelical seed."

At the request of the Bishop of Almería, the Trinitarian provincial minister of Castile and Andalusia who was visiting Úbeda, considering the value of Friar Marco to the mission of Alpujarra, agreed that Father Marcos Criado should accompany Father Pedro de San Martín to the Almería convent to take charge of itinerant preaching in territories of significant Moorish population in southeastern Spain. His companion soon died and Marco Criado was left alone, dedicated to mission among the Moors.

Mark Criado's apostolic outreach was directed to several localities in the dioceses of Almería, Granada, and Guadix. His preaching focused mainly on the region of the Alpujarras, where there was a large presence of Muslims, a dangerous place for any Christian preacher and also for the Christian inhabitants of the area.

The town of La Peza became the center of his missionary activities and was of great support to the local pastor. His zeal in spreading devotion to the sweet name of Jesus and his popular sermons achieved great success.

During one of his missionary journeys, while crossing the Sierra de los Filabres, Marco Criado was captured by a group of Moors, who tied him to a tree for two days. After miraculously surviving he managed to talk to Abén Cota, leader of the rebellious Moors, to negotiate a peace agreement that failed. He was tortured, tied to a horse's tail and dragged for a long time. He was abandoned to his fate, thinking he would die. However, he recovered from his wounds and went on a mission to the regions of Almanzora and Tahá de Marchena, with great success in the towns of Vera and Cadiar. There a group of Moors fled and asked to kill him during a sermon.

On Christmas night in 1568 there was a large gathering of Moors in the Alpujarras.

On St. John's Eve in 1569, Muslim troops commanded by Aben Homeya decided to return to La Peza. Brother Mark and the parish priest were confined to the parish church, their movements and words constantly watched.

Some exalted ones killed the parish priest at the door of the same church, the same ones who a few days later stormed the holy place while Friar Marco was preaching to a small number of Christians who remained in town. It was September 22, 1569 when Friar Mark was dragged from the pulpit to the square where he was stoned to death after being covered with slaps and spit. He was pushed along the road to the Belchite fountain on the other side of the stream, where he was tied to an oak tree. There he remained, singing hymns and loudly praising the name of Jesus, until Sept. 24, when he was killed, tearing out his heart, on which, according to witnesses, the anagram of Jesus had appeared written: "JHS."

He became known as "the martyr of the Alpujarras," and his cult was immediately widespread. The people of La Peza call him Saint Mark. To this day the site of his burial remains a mystery. The iconography depicts him with his heart in his hand, and engraved in it the anagram of Jesus, in memory of the prodigy that, as mentioned, occurred according to tradition at the time of his martyrdom. Having collected testimonies of his cult from Father Antonino dell'Assunta, postulator general of the Discalced Trinitarians, Leo XIII beatified him on July 24, 1899. His liturgical memory is celebrated on September 24. Model of holiness and perennial example for future generations of human and spiritual values rooted in his deep faith in God the Trinity.

Written by Andrés Borrego Toledano

Blessed Anna Maria Taigi

She was born in Siena in 1769 into a wealthy family and died very poor in Rome in 1837. At the age of twenty she married Domenico Taigi a servant of the Chigi family; they are poor, her husband earns just six paoli a month but poverty is not an obstacle to their happiness, because they are not alone, their marriage consists of three people: there is Jesus with them, there is Divine Providence, what Domenico cannot give her God offers her in abundance, especially in spiritual gifts. 

God has a thousand ways of making himself present in a person's soul, of revealing that he exists; Anna Maria is touched by grace shortly after her marriage, following an encounter in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican with Father Angelo Verardi, of the Servants of Mary, who revives her to an intensely Christian life.

She then stripped herself of herself, her selfishness and individualism, and allowed herself to be clothed with God, continuing to live her marriage vocation to the full, with a love that is dedication, selflessness and self-giving.

Seven children are born from the marriage, three of whom die at an early age; at that time, infant mortality is very high mainly due to lack of prevention and poor care.

Anna Maria accepts suffering out of love for God, sharing the pain and heartbreak that Jesus experienced on the cross, as a profound and generous act of love and soon becomes a point of reference for many struggling families, spouses in crisis and parents disoriented in the difficult task of raising children.

Anna Maria prays and offers her penances for the Pope, for the Church and for Rome, which are going through difficult times, and especially for the Supreme Pontiff Pius VII, who was arrested by deception by Napoleon's troops and taken first to Savona (from 1809 to 1812), later to France (from 1812 to 1814); she prays and encourages the faithful to have confidence in the restoration of justice and peace.

Anna Maria visits the sick in hospitals and homes, especially those of the poor, makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads, invoking the Holy Trinity to obtain the grace of healing, and at the same time encourages them to accept suffering for God's sake and instructs them in His Word.

Anna Maria, enlightened by the preaching of the Gospel, purified by the sacrament of penance, became, for those who knew her, an admirable example of evangelical virtues, a wise teacher of Christian discernment, a sure guide in the path of perfection; a privileged witness to the greatness of God.

Written by Giovanna Cossu Merendino

Blessed Dominic Iturrate

Trinitarian Priest

Roman Martyrology: In the convent of Belmonte, near Cuenca, in Spain, Blessed Dominic of the Blessed Sacrament Iturrate, priest of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, who worked with all his strength for the salvation of souls and to promote the glorification of the Trinity (1927).

Date of beatification: October 30, 1983 by Pope John Paul II.

First-born of eleven siblings, Domingo Iturrate Zubero was born in Dima (Vizcaya, Spain) on May 11, 1901. Blessed Dominic's parents were Simon Iturrate and Maria Zubero. He was characterized for having at the same time a sensitive temperament and prone to irritability, since he was a child, in the warmth of a good Christian home, the germs of a deep Eucharistic and Marian piety, as well as the vocational inclination were emerging in him. When he received his first communion at the age of ten, he could already be considered a lover of Christ.

He entered the Trinitarian Order in 1914 (novitiate in 1917; first vows in 1918). At the end of his novitiate, his physical appearance clearly showed that he was doing his hand in privations and penances, but no one knew how to intuit his interior Calvary. Later, thanks to a subsequent confidence he confided to his spiritual director, it became known that from the age of 14 to 17 he had been subjected by God to the so-called "dark night of the spirit", full of dryness, anxiety and anguish, with the persecution of belonging to the "number of the reprobate and condemned". On the day of my simple profession," continues his statement, "the interior labors ceased and I received the gift of tranquility. Since then - he speaks at the end of his life - my serenity of mind is habitual; peace and interior quietude, unalterable".

At the Gregorian University in Rome, he completed his philosophical and theological studies (1919-1926) with excellent grades and a doctorate in both disciplines. He took his solemn vows on October 23, 1922; two years later, with the assent of his holy spiritual director, Friar Antoninus of the Assumption, he embraced "the vow to do what he knew to be more perfect". He was ordained a priest on August 9, 1925.

He longed to be a missionary and herald of the Trinitarian mystery in lands of infidels; his superiors directed him to the field of formation. But Providence had another plan. In June 1926 the illness (pulmonary tuberculosis) that would lead him to his grave in Belmonte (Cuenca, Spain) on April 7, 1927, was revealed to him.

His relics are venerated in the Church of the Redeemer (Algorta, Spain), belonging to the Trinitarians.

Source : laicadotrinitariopr.org

Venerables of our Order

Msgr. Joseph Di Donna

The Venerable – Bishop of Andria

Bishop Joseph Di Donna is for the Diocese of Andria, the Bishop of the Marian Congress (1947), but also of the Diocesan Synod (1950); the cantor of the Most Holy Trinity, to whose worship and devotion he committed his entire life as priest, missionary and bishop; the lover of the Eucharist and Our Lady, the sources of his apostolic commitment;

The ardent evangelizer in mission lands (Madagascar) and in the countries of the diocese entrusted to him; the ascetic and mystic who offered himself as a victim of atonement together with his Lord through the “espousal with the Cross” (March 26, 1926, Passion Friday first day of new life); the indefatigable promoter of social works on behalf of the neediest classes and model of heroic charity; the diligent Pastor concerned about the spiritual formation of his clergy and a convinced advocate of the necessity of the apostolate of the laity in the religious as well as in the social and political fields.

Born in Rutigliano (Bari) on August 23, 1901, he entered the Trinitarian Order at the age of 11; in 1916 he was sent to Livorno for his novitiate, then to Rome to study philosophy and theology at St. Chrysogonus College, attending the Gregorian University at the same time.

On May 18, 1924, he was ordained a priest, fulfilling a dream cultivated as a boy. Fascinated by the missionary ideal, on June 4, 1926, with four other members of the Trinitarian Order he left Rome for Madagascar, with destination Miarinarivo. Intense was the apostolic activity in that distant strip of African land, rich in religious and civil works on behalf of the Malagasy people.

It was his fervent wish to remain in Africa and there conclude his life as a missionary, when in 1939 Pius XII appointed him Bishop of Andria. Ordained in Rome 1131 March 1940, he entered the diocese the following May 5. Msgr. Di Donna’s pastoral government lasted 12 years, ending with his untimely death on Jan. 2, 1952 from a pulmonary neoplasm. The funeral turned out to be an apotheosis, and the Christian people immediately prayed to him as a “saint.”

Not only the faithful sensed Msgr. Di Donna’s extraordinary spiritual depth, but also the bishops of Puglia, who in a petition addressed to John Paul gave them this moving testimony: “The spiritual profile of the missionary Bishop Di Donna can be summarized in two salient and complementary characteristics: a profound spiritual life, marked by faith and devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, according to the charism of the Order; and an authentic pastoral charity.”

Source : https://www.diocesiandria.org/fra-giuseppe-di-donna/

Felix of the Virgin Mary, venerable (1902-1951), model of religious life and humility, formator of religious, popular preacher.

Thomas of the Virgin Mary, venerable (1587-1647), adviser to popes, bishops and rulers, model of hope in the mystery of his pain, made his long illness a place of annunciation of Christ crucified.

Francisco Méndez Casariego, venerable (1850-1924), founder of the Trinitarian Sisters congregation in Madrid, a life dedicated to the liberation of needy youth.

Venerable Mariana Allsopp y Manrique (1854-1933), servant of God, co-founder of the Trinitarian Sisters of Madrid, a mother’s life dedicated to abandoned and homeless girls.

Martyrs of Algiers

P. Bernardo Monroy (1559-1622),

P. John de Palacios (1560-1616),

P. John de Águila (1563-1613).

Martyrs of England

Fr. Cornelius O’Connor (+ 1664),

P. Eugene Daly (+ 1664).

Martyrs of the Diocese of Jaén (Spain)

(Villanueva del Arzobispo, Andújar (La Cabeza) and Martos)

P. Marian of St. Joseph (1857-1936),

P. Joseph of Jesus and Mary (1880-1936),

P. Prudentius of the Cross (1883-1936),

P. Second of St. Teresa (1891-1936),

P. John of Jesus and Mary (1895-1936),

Sister Frances of the Incarnation Martos (1872-1936).

Martyrs de Belmonte (Cuenca)

P. Louis of St. Michael’s (1891-1936),

P. Melchior of the Holy Spirit (1898-1936),

P. James of Jesus (1903-1936),

Br. John of the Virgin de Castellar (1898-1936).

Martyrs of Alcázar de San Juan

P. Ermenegildo of the Assumption (1879-1936),

P. Bonaventure of St. Catherine (1887-1936),

P. Francis of St. Lawrence (1889-1936),

P. Placid of Jesus (1890-1936),

P. Anthony of Jesus and Mary (1902-1936),

Stephen of St. Joseph (1880-1936).

Servants of God

SdD. (**)
P. Giovanni di S. Giuseppe (1586-1616),

SdD. Angela Maria Autsch (1900-1944) + Auschwitz, Trinitarian from Valencia, servant of God, witness of heroic charity in Ravensbruck and Auschwiz concentration camps, where she died.

SdD. Maria Teresa Cucchiari (1734-1801), Foundress of the Trinitarian Sisters of Rome, (1734-1801), Trinitarian tertiary, a life dedicated to the education of poor girls.

SdD. Marcela de San Félix (1605-1687), daughter of Lope de Vega, cloistered Trinitarian in Madrid, a saintly life, one of the most important lyric writers of 17th-century Spain.

SdD. Angela M. de la Conception, servant of God (1649-1690), cloistered Trinitarian reformer, foundress of the Trinitarian monastery in El Toboso, mystical writer.

Isabel of the Most Holy Trinity (1693-1774), foundress of the Beaterio of the Most Holy Trinity in Seville for the care of the ofrances.

* Ven.
= Venerable
** SdD.
= Servant of God