Spirituality for Today – January 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 6

Saint of the Month

St. Raymond of Peñafort – January 7

Born into a noble family in the kingdom of Catalonia (eastern Spain) around 1175, Raymond was educated in Barcelona. A brilliant student, Raymond moved to Bologna in 1210 to study at the newly founded university there. Universities were a fairly new idea in Europe. What had once been schools attached to cathedrals now became universities, with courses in medicine, law, philosophy and theology. Oxford, Paris and Bologna all became famous centers of learning.

An illustration of Saint Raymond of PeñafortSaint Raymond of Peñafort

Raymond remained in Bologna for nine years, devoting himself to the study of law, especially canon law. When he returned to Barcelona in 1219, the bishop of the city appointed Raymond to the post of archdeacon. His mission was to care for the poor.

In Barcelona, Raymond spent many hours in contemplation and study and began a lifelong passion for converting the Moors, who were Muslims, and Jews of Spain to Christianity. In 1221, he joined the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Domicians.

In 1230, Raymond was summoned to Rome to serve as confessor to Pope Gregory IX. He urged the Pope to do penance by acting on petitions he received from the poor. While in Rome, Raymond also supervised the compilation of various papal decrees known as the "Decretals", a job that took him three years. In 1235, Raymond returned to Bologna and rejoined the Dominicans. Soon after his arrival, a reluctant Raymond was elected master general of the Dominicans, a post he held until his retirement in 1240 at age 65. He died on January 6, 1275, and was canonized in 1601.

Oh my Lord and Father,
we ask You to watch over those who live in poverty.
Please watch over those who give unselfishly to come to their aid.
Please keep shouting the call to charity unto us.
Bless those who offer themselves to help those who are hungry
and clothe those we are cold. Amen

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives