Saint Felix of Valois
Saint Felix of Valois' Story
Hermit and co-founder of the Trinitarians with St. John of Matha. He lived as a recluse at Cerfroid, France, and in 1198 received approval from the Holy See for the Order of the Most Holy Trinity to ransoms captives from the Moors. Felix founded St. Mathburn Convent in Paris while in his seventies. He died in Cerfroid on November 4. In 1969 his feast was confined to local calendars.
Butler says that Felix was born in 1127. He was surnamed Valois because he was a native of the province of Valois. Tradition holds that he renounced his possessions and retired to a dense forest in the Diocese of Meaux, where he gave himself to prayer and contemplation. Much later sources sometimes identify him with Hugh (II), supposed son of Ralph I, Count of Vermandois by Eleanor of Champagne.
St. John of Matha, a young nobleman, a native of Provence, and doctor of divinity, who was lately ordained priest, having heard of the holy hermit of Cerfroid, sought him out, and put himself under his direction. St. John proposed to him the project of founding an order for the redemption of captives. Felix, though seventy years of age, readily agreed.
Main article: Trinitarian Order
Felix, in company with John, set out for Rome in the depth of winter and arrived there in January 1198, the beginning of the pontificate of Innocent III. They had letters of recommendation from the Bishop of Paris, and the new pope received them with kindness and lodged them in his palace. Innocent III, though little in favor of new orders, granted his approval to this enterprise in a Bull of 17 December 1198, under the named of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives. Innocent appointed John of Matha superior-general and commissioned the Bishop of Paris and the Abbot of St. Victor to draw up for the institute a rule, which he subsequently confirmed. Felix returned to France to establish the order. He was received with great enthusiasm, and King Philip Augustus authorized the institute in France and fostered it by signal benefactions.
Margaret of Blois granted the order 20 acres (81,000 m2) of the wood where Felix had built his first hermitage, and on almost the same spot he erected the famous Monastery of Cerfroid, the mother-house of the institute. Within forty years the order possessed six hundred monasteries in every part of Europe. St. John was obliged to go to Rome to found a house of the order, the church of which, Santa Maria in Navicella, still stands on the Caelian Hill. St Felix remained in France to look after the interests of the congregation. He founded a house in Paris attached to the church of St. Maturinus, which afterwards became famous under Robert Guguin, master general of the order.
St Felix died amongst his fellow Trinitarians at their motherhouse in Cerfroid on November 4, 1212.
Though no bull of his canonization is extant, it is the tradition of his institute that he was canonized by Pope Urban IV on May 1, 1262. Du Plessis tells us that his feast was kept in the Diocese of Meaux as early as the year 1215. On October 21, 1666, Pope Alexander VII confirmed his status as a saint because of his immemorial cult. In 1679 St Felix's feast was transferred to November 20 by Pope Innocent XI, when it was placed in the General Roman Calendar because, since 1613, November 4 was the feast day of Saint Charles Borromeo In 1969, his feast was restored to November 4, his dies natalis.
Monastery of Cerfroid, Brumetz, Department of Aisne, France
House of the Trinity
02810 Cerfroid-Brumetz, France
Phone: 011-33-323-714185 / 011-33-323-714439