TRINITARIAN, one who believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, the union of three per sons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God head. The received doctrine of the Christian Church among Trinitarians holds that it N taught in the Scriptures that there is but one God, and yet that there are three equal subjects in the one Godhead, who are described as per sons, but that we cannot determine in what sense these three are separate and in what sense they are united in one. The incorporation of the doctrine of the Trinity in the creeds of Christendom is the result of the attempts to reconcile two seemingly conflicting teachings of the Bible, the first that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each possess the divine attributes and is worthy to be worshipped, and the second that there is but one God, and that polytheism is sinful.
Under the name Trinitarians, a monastic order (see ORDERS, RELIGIOUS) was founded in the year 1197 by Pope Innocent HI for the ran som of Christians captured by the Moors and the Saracens. John de Matha (d. 1213) and
Felix de Valois (d. 1212) were the leaders of the order, the former becoming its first general and the latter its first abbot. By 1200 A.D. 200 Christians had been redeemed out of slavery in Morocco by the Trinitarians, and the society spread rapidly in France, Italy and Spain. Aided by Honorius III and Clement IV it afterward spread into Portugal, the United Kingdom, all of south-central Europe and finally to America. From the character of the work done by the order its members came to be known as Redemptionists, and in France by the middle of the 17th century there had been 246 redemptions, releasing 30,720 prisoners, while the numbers for Castile and Leon were 362 redemptions and 11,809 prisoners. - By the 18th century the order possessed over 300 houses, but it was rapidly nearing its end, which came in the latter half of that century; it is now almost extinct, having outlived its usefulness.