John Baptist of the Conception


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Trinitarian reformer (1561–1613).

Born at Almodovar del Campo, he studied scripture, theology, and Lives of the Saints under Jesuits and Carmelites at Baeza and Toledo. He joined the Trinitarian Order (c.1580), founded in the late 12th century for ransoming prisoners captured by the Moors. Like several other Orders it needed reform by the 16th century and in 1594 the General Chapter decreed that each province should have two or three houses set aside for strict observance. This policy was only partially successful and led to divisions. However John Baptist founded a reformed monastery at Valdepenas, supported by the marquess of Santa Cruz, but placed under Discalced Carmelites and Franciscan Observants by the papacy. Seven other houses were founded by 1605.

Feelings ran high among the Trinitarians, especially when the reformed houses attracted greater sums of money for the captives. Some unreformed Trinitarians even tied up John Baptist one night, threw him in a ditch and made off with a large sum of money. But he and the reforming movement recovered, numbering 34 houses in Spain at the time of his death, while the unreformed branch ceased to exist. The reformed diversified their activities into nursing and education, and were prominent in ransoming African slaves during the slave-trade period. An equivalent congregation of nuns is devoted to works of mercy. John Baptist died at Cordoba. He was beatified in 1819 and canonized in 1975. Feast: 14 February.

P. Deslandres. L'Ordre des Trinitaires pour le rachat des captifs, 1, 227–8; B.L.S., ii. 153–4, Bibl. SS., vi. 940–3. Lives by Giovanni del S. Cuore di Gesú (1959) and Giuseppe Molinar (1961). Works in 8 vols. (Rome, 1830)

Subjects: Christianity.

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