Tuesday, November 20, 2012

St. Felix of Valois

Born to nobility in the French province of Valois as “Hugh”, this saint received the blessings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Innocent II as a child. He was educated at the abbey of Clairvaux and, following his parents’ divorce (and resultant excommunication), he renounced his wealth and took the name Felix. To avoid succeeding the throne of his father, he then fled to the forest of Galeresse, in the diocese of Meaux, France, and received Holy Orders to the priesthood. There he met Saint John of Matha, with whom he founded the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives (Trinitarians) in order to ransom Christians then held as slaves by Moors in Spain and Northern Africa. The Order received papal approval on 17 December 1198, and within 40 years there were over 600 houses worldwide.

At Cerfroid, home of his new convent, he was graced with an apparition of Our Lady. Dom Prosper Guéranger in 1903 recapitulated this wonderful event in the life of this holy man:

On the vigil of the Nativity of the Mother of God, while the brethren, God so disposing, remained asleep instead of rising at midnight for Matins, Felix who was watching according to his custom before the appointed hour, entered the church, and found the blessed Virgin in the middle of the choir, clad in the habit and cross of the Order, and surrounded by Angels in the same attire. Felix joined them, and the Mother of God having intoned the Office, he sang the divine praises with them even to the end.

Today there are around 600 members of the Trinitarian Order working in prison ministries in over twenty countries, continuing over 800 years of ministry.


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