AFRICA/MOROCCO - Freeing slaves, yesterday and today: the Trinitarian Family returns to the routes of its first vocation

Thursday, 20 April 2023


Fèz (Agenzia Fides) - For two days the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Fèz welcomed the visit of 170 pilgrims from the Trinitarian Family who came to retrace the route of the ancient 'redeemers' who, from 1200 onwards and for several centuries, came to rescue Christian slaves held captive by Muslims.
"Our church was almost full - parish priest Fr. Matteo Revelli, a priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA), writes to Fides. The participants came from the most diverse countries of the world, and brought their multilingual liturgy along with the variety of their traditional religious costumes".
The meeting in Fez was held from Sunday, April 16 to Tuesday April 18, and in addition to the pilgrims there were also the Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia Msgr. Aldo Berardi, Trinitarian bishop, and Father Luigi Buccarello, Minister General of the Order.
Father Pedro Aliaga, member of the Commission that prepared this event, explained that the Fathers wanted to retrace one of the routes of the ancient Trinitarian fathers who went to Morocco to redeem Christian slaves subjected to Muslim masters. "Fez is one of the cities where the Trinitarians went, over the centuries, to free Christian slaves - says Father Aliaga, who is the Provincial Superior of the Trinitarian Province of the Holy Spirit in Spain. Historical documents attest that the Trinitarians had hospitals and reception centers in Fez to help Christian prisoners. Their presence was very discontinuous because they came to rescue slaves and left to take them back to their respective homes".
It was Pope Innocent III who gave John de Matha, founder of the Trinitarians, the Apostolic Letter Inter Opera Misericordiae, dated March 8, 1199, addressed to Miramamolin, King of Morocco. According to tradition, it was de Matha himself who brought the letter to the sultan in Fez and carried out the first redemption from slavery in the same city. The letter is a presentation of the Order and its charism as well as a request to facilitate the work of the Trinitarians themselves. The Trinitarian Family is made up of religious men and women from different institutes and lay people who share the same charism and mission.
The Assembly of the Trinitarian Family is held every 6 years, and this year it was held from April 12 to 19, 2023, between Seville and Morocco to return to Seville again. Some 450 sub-Saharan university students from 30 African countries currently attend the parish of San Francisco de Asís in Fès.
The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Slaves (Trinitarian Fathers) is a religious order of pontifical right, founded by Saint John de Matha at the end of the 12th century, approved by Pope Innocent III in 1198. Together with the Mercedarian fathers, it is committed against all the slavery of yesterday and today (see Agenzia Fides Dossier 21/2/2009). (MR/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 20/4/2023)