Formally the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives, and also known as the Order of the Most Holy Trinity of Redemptionists. Religious order founded in the 12th century by Saint John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois, at Cerfroid in the Diocese of Meaux, France for the ransom of captives. During the lives of the founders, the Order made 100 foundations; after their deaths it spread so rapidly, especially in the East, that Pope Gregory IX in 1237 placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See. It was established in England in 1226, in Ireland in 1230, and from there the Trinitarians spread to every country. The house in Paris, France, erected in 1228, dedicated to Saint Mathurin, soon surpassed Cerfroid and eventually became the residence of the general of the Order. In France the Trinitarians suffered greatly during the English invasion of the 15th century and the wars of religion of the 16th.
Towards the end of the 16th century they separated into the Discalced and the Reformed Trinitarians. Their rule, originally very austere, was mitigated in 1263, and in 1771 they adopted the Rule of Saint Augustine. The Trinitarians of Spain separated from those of France under Father Juan Bautista of the Immaculate Conception; the latter added fresh austerity to their rule by founding the Discalced Trinitarians of Spain. This rule spread to Italy and Austria, and the Discalced also went to France, where they were suppressed by a papal Bull in 1771. An edict of Emperor Joseph II in 1784 suppressed them in Austria and the Low Countries, and the French Revolution in 1789 suppressed them in all the territories to which they had spread. They have retained a few houses in Italy, Spain, and the Spanish colonies. Their chief house is the Basilica of Saint John Chrysogolus at Rome, Italy, which was given to them by Pope Pius IX in 1856.
Nuns have been affiliated to the order since 1256, but the true Trinitarian Sisters, forming an integral part of the congregation, date from 1612. They came to the United States in 1920. There are both Calced and Discalced Spanish Trinitarian Nuns with numerous houses in Spain.