Monday, February 20, 2006

Saint Raymond of Penafort

Raymond was born in a little town called Penafort near Barcelona, Spain. He studied at the cathedral school in Barcelona and became a famous teacher of Philosophy when he was twenty. After Raymond became a priest he studied law in Bologna, Italy and became a lawyer. He then joined the Dominican order in 1218.

In 1230, Pope Gregory IX asked him to come to Rome. When Raymond arrived, the Pope gave him several duties. One duty was to collect all the official letters of the Popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes and also helped to write the Church law.

In 1238, Raymond was elected master general of the Dominicans. With his knowledge of law, he went over the Order's Rule and made sure everything was legally correct. When he had finished, he resigned his position so that he could truly dedicate the rest of his life to parish work. He really wanted to work among the people in his parish.

The Pope wanted to make Raymond an Archbishop, but Raymond refused. He asked if he could return to Spain and was given permission. His compassion helped many people return to God through the sacrament of Reconciliation.

During his years in Rome, Raymond often heard stories of the difficulties that missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. To help the missionaries, Raymond started a school that taught the language and culture of the people to be evangelized.

Father Raymond asked the famous Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas, to write a booklet explaining the truths of faith in a way that nonbelievers could understand.

St. Raymond lived nearly one hundred years and died in Barcelona on January 6, 1275. He was declared the patron of Church lawyers because of his great influence on Church law.

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