Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Felix of Valois

Saint Felix of ValoisArticle

Saint Felix, of the royal house of Valois, was born in France, in 1127, and manifested in his earliest childhood great compassion towards the poor. While yet in the arms of his nurse, no greater pleasure could be given him than to allow him to bestow alms on the needy. When older, he sent the best dishes from his table to the poor; and it happened more than once, that he gave his own cloak to some beggar, because he happened not to have anything else at hand. He once implored mercy and life for a condemned criminal, who, he said, was destined to become a great saint; and the event justified the prediction. Having passed his youth in acquiring knowledge, and in the practice of virtue, Felix resolved to serve the Almighty in retirement and solitude. He first, however, took holy orders, so as to deprive himself of all hope of ever attaining the crown, from which, by his birth, he was not far removed. After having said his first Mass, he went into a desert, where he led a very austere life, which was made extremely sweet to him by divine consolations; so that he intended to spend his whole life, unknown, in that lonely place. But the Almighty, who had chosen him for greater work, sent to him a noble young doctor from Paris, named John of Matha, who had also been ordained priest, and who desired to walk in the path of perfection under his direction. Saint Felix received him with great pleasure; for he perceived in the candidate great inclination to virtue. They had lived harmoniously together, in great piety, for three years, when, one day, while they were sitting beside a well, in devout discourse, a stag, bearing a blue and red cross between its antlers, came suddenly forth from the bushes. Saint Felix, greatly amazed, knew not what to say; but John made use of the occasion to relate a vision which he had had while saying his first holy Mass, and which was vividly recalled to his memory by the appearance of this stag. Both saints sank upon their knees and prayed that they might be favored to recognize more clearly the will of God. Heaven inspired both with an intense desire to labor for the ransom of those prisoners who languished under the yoke of the Turks and other barbarians, and thus save many from the danger of renouncing their faith, and going to eternal ruin. Both were admonished three times during their sleep to found a special order for this end, and to request, at Rome, the necessary permission. Innocent III, who sat at that time on the papal throne, was greatly pleased with such holy intentions, but desired to confer on the subject with some learned men, and consult the will of the Almighty in prayer. During holy Mass the Pope saw the same vision which had been shown to Saint John of Matha, during his first Mass, as as we related. On the 8th of February, putting away all doubt, Innocent approved the plan of the new “Order of the Most Holy Trinity, for the Redemption of Captives,” and invested the two holy founders with the habit. The first monastery was founded in the diocese of Meaux, by means of ample donations from charitable persons whom God had moved to favor the undertaking; whilst others eagerly flocked to the monastery, as soon as it was completed, to devote their lives to the noble work of ransoming their captive brethren. When this happy beginning had been made, Saint John again set out for Rome, leaving the government of the house to Saint Felix, who, by word and example, led those under him in the path of religious perfection. He represented to them, with special energy, the many and fearful dangers of those Christians who were slaves among the barbarians, as many of them forsook the Christian faith, either from fear of greater misery, or in the hope of regaining their liberty. The same representations he made to the laity in his sermons; and thus, after having awakened in the hearts of his religious a great desire to relieve the captives, he also induced the laity to contribute liberally to their ransom. With the funds thus collected, the religious of the new order sailed to Africa, where they knew that the Christians were imprisoned. They bought them from the infidels, liberated them from slavery, and saved them, not only from temporal misery, but, what was of much greater importance, from the imminent danger of going to eternal ruin. It is easy to conceive that the disciples of Saint Felix, in this holy work, had to combat with many and great dangers, and also to endure numberless sufferings and hardships. But they were so inflamed by their holy Master with love for God and their neighbor, that they feared neither danger nor dishonor, nor even death. All this gave great comfort to Saint Felix, as he considered that, in this manner, many souls were saved for eternity. The holy man received great favors from heaven, among which may be counted the vision which he had, in the night preceding the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. He went, according to his custom, an hour earlier than the rest to the choir, in order to pray. On arriving there, he saw the divine Mother, surrounded by a great many angels. Going towards them, he fell into ecstasy, and with them sang the praises of the Almighty; when one of them told him that he would soon be called into heaven to sing eternally the glory of the Almighty. Felix, greatly rejoicing, called his disciples to him, admonished them most earnestly to remain constant in their devotion to the captives; and, after receiving the holy Sacraments, gave his soul calmly into the hands of his Maker, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.

Practical Considerations

Saint Felix labored long and hard to save the poor Christian captives from the danger of eternal damnation in which they were while among the infidels. Perhaps among those who are under you, or among your friends or relatives, there is some one whom you know to be in danger of eternal damnation. Consider whether you can extricate him from this danger, and go to work without delay. Before all, examine your own soul, and see whether it is not in similar danger, and if so, rescue it immediately. “Whoever will give alms in the right manner,” says Saint Chrysostom, “must begin with himself, and first give to himself.” For, to give alms, is to be charitable, and is a work of charity: but it is written:

“Have pity on your own soul, that you may please the Lord.” You are perhaps in a proximate occasion of sin; you have a sinful affection, or a dangerous friendship; your conscience is burdened with some sin, which you perhaps conceal in your confession, out of shame; or you have evil habits, which you do not earnestly endeavor to correct. If this be the case, your soul is in evident danger of eternal ruin. Ah! endeavor to save it without delay from so terrible a danger, Think that it is your own soul, and that the loss of it will be your own loss; and hasten to help it. Delay is fraught with danger. “I pray you,” says Saint Peter Damian, “by the love of Jesus, do not deceive yourself, do not delay; that you may not ruin your soul by procrastination; lest some unforeseen accident lay you low, or a sudden death take you away, and hell devour you.” “Why do you wish to wait for tomorrow?” asks Saint Ambrose, “You can gain the present day. Take care lest in losing today, you do not gain the morrow. The loss of one single hour may be of eternal injury to you.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Felix of Valois”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 May 2018. Web. 13 November 2018. <>