John of Matha (1160-1223) was born into Provencal nobility. He was educated at Aix, then lived as a hermit at Faucon. He earned a doctorate in theology and was ordained in 1197.
At the first Mass he celebrated, John received a vision of an angel clothed in white with a red and blue cross on his breast. The angel placed his hands on the heads of two slaves who knelt beside him. With the encouragement of Pope Innocent III, he founded the Hospitaler Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives to ransom Christian prisoners of the Moors. The congregation received papal approval in 1209. Hundreds of prisoners were ransomed and returned to their homes.
Today there are around 600 members of the Order working in prison ministries in over twenty countries, and they recently celebrated their 800 year anniversary.