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St. Raymond of Pennafort

Name: St. Raymond of Pennafort
Date: 23 January

Born in 1175 of a noble Spanish family, Raymond, at the age of twenty, taught philosophy inBarcelona with marvelous success. Ten years later his rare abilities won for him the degree ofDoctor in the University of Bologna, accompanied by many high dignities. A tender devotion toour Blessed Lady, which had increased within him from childhood, determined him in his matureyears to renounce all his honors and to enter Her Order of Saint Dominic.

There a vision of the Mother of Mercy instructed him to cooperate with his penitent Saint PeterNolasco, and with James, King of Aragon, in founding the Order of Our Lady of Ransom for theredemption of captives. He began this great work by preaching a crusade against the Moors, andby rousing to penance the Christians enslaved in both soul and body by the infidels. The king ofAragon, a man of great qualities but governed by a ruling passion, often took Saint Raymond withhim on his voyages. On one such occasion, when they were visiting the island of Majorca, he wastold by the Saint he must put away at once the cause of his sin. When he delayed, Raymond askedfor leave to depart, since he could not live in company with sin. The king refused and under painof death, forbade his conveyance by any ship. The Saint replied to the sailors, “If a mortal kinghas given such a command, we will see that the Eternal King has disposed otherwise.” Full offaith, he went out on a rock extending into the sea, and spread his cloak upon the waters. Tyingone end of it to his staff as a sail, he made the sign of the cross and fearlessly stepped upon it. Insix hours he was borne to Barcelona where, gathering up his cloak, which was dry, he made hisway to his monastery.

The king, vanquished by this miracle, to which many were witness, became a sincere penitent andthe disciple of the Saint until his death. In 1230, Gregory IX summoned Raymond to Rome, madehim his confessor and grand penitentiary, and directed him to compile “The Decretals,” acollection of the scattered decisions of the Popes and Councils. Having refused the archbishopricof Tarragon, Raymond was in 1238 chosen to be the third General of his Order, which post heagain succeeded in resigning, pleading his advanced age. His first act when set free was to resumehis labors among the infidels, and in 1256 Raymond, then eighty-one, was able to report that tenthousand Saracens had received Baptism. He died at the age of one hundred years, in 1275.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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