Religious order founded by St. John of Math in 1198 in Cerfroid, France, whose mission was to redeem captives of the infidels during the Crusades. Members, who were forbidden to ride horses (either from humility or the difficulty of Christians keeping horses in Muslim lands) were known as the "Friars of the Ass." The order was set up so that one third of its revenue went to take care of the poor, one third went to support the monks, and one third went to the liberation of captive Christians in the Holy Land. Revenue was made via the selling of indulgences, and solemn roadshows spreading sermons, stories, and tableaux of the unhappy lot of those imprisoned in Mussulman countries, often with special guest stars-- actual captives freed via the monks' intervention. It is estimated that over the course of three centuries, the Trinitarians released 90,000 captives, the most famous of which was Cervantes (ransomed in 1580). The order still has houses and hospitals in Italy and Spain.

Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

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