August 31

St. Raymond Nonnatus

St. Raymond Nonnatus

Early Life

Raymond Nonnatus was born in 1204 in the village of Portell in theDiocese of Urgell. His mother died while giving birth to him and aCaesarian section had to be performed to save his life. Hence, he gothis Latin nickname Nonnatus which means “not born”. He was practicallytaken out of the womb of his deceased mother. His father was a localcount who performed the surgery that saved his life.

Raymond’s well-educated father had high expectations for his son whomhe wanted to serve in the Kingdom of Aragon’s royal court. However,Raymond was so devoted to Christianity, and he did not want anything todo with the royal court. His father resorted to sending him to one ofhis family farms. This move did not deter the young Raymond to followhis religious beliefs. He studied the word of God and prayed with thefarmworkers at a nearby ancient country chapel which was dedicated to StNicholas.

Upon realizing Raymond’s devotion to Christianity, his father gave upon the hopes for his son’s social advancement. He permitted him to takethe habit with the Mercedians at Barcelona. The order was established toset free Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa by payingransom to the captors. The founder of that order was St. Peter Nolascowho was also Raymond’s mentor. Raymond was trained well to such anextent that he became a priest in 1222 and later became Master Generalof the Order.

Raymond set out to fulfil the goals of the order which entailedransoming captured Christians. He went to Valencia where he managed toset free 140 Christians from slavery after paying the required ransom.His next journey took him to North Africa where he successfully ransomed250 captives in Algiers. However, in Tunis, he ran out of money to paythe ransom and offered himself in exchange for 28 captive Christians. Bydoing so, he was following a special fourth vow taken by the members ofthe order.

He was sentenced to death but was spared by his captors who realizedthat his ransom would bring in a large amount of money. During hisincarceration, he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and managed toconvert some prison guards. To stop him from preaching his captors boreda hole through his lips with a hot iron and attached a padlock. In 1239,he was ransomed by his order and returned to Spain. That year, PopeGregory IX named Raymond a Cardinal Deacon of Sant’ Eustachio.

Date of Death

Raymond died at the Castle of Cardona 69 miles from Barcelona on 31August 1240, aged 36. He was on his way to Rome after being invited bythe Pope. His body was claimed by the local count, the friars and thetown. As a way of resolving this dispute, the body was placed on a blindmule. Without guidance, the mule went straight to a nearby chapel whereRaymond had prayed as a young man. This was taken as a sign that heshould be buried at the chapel.

Canonization and Patronage

Raymond was canonized in Rome by Pope Alexander VII in 1657. He isportrayed in paintings in the habit of his order surrounded by ransomedslaves with a padlock on his lips. Raymond is the patron saint ofpregnant women, childbirth and newborn infants. Due to the story of hisbirth, women facing childbirth pray to ask for his intercession.

Feast Day

His Feast Day is celebrated on August 31. However, the reforms of theChurch calendar in 1969, did not include Raymond’s feast day with thosethat are observed wherever the Roman Rite is celebrated. Therefore,since he is included in the Roman Martyrology for August 31, Mass andthe Liturgy of the Hours may be recited in his honour on that day as inthe pre-1970 General Roman Calendar, which is observed by sometraditionalist Catholics.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Raymond Nonnatus

  1. His Latin nickname Nonnatus means “not born” because he was taken
    from the womb of his deceased mother.
  2. During his time in Tunis as a prisoner of faith, he managed to
    convert some prison guards to Christianity.

Prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus

Glorious St. Raymond,filled with compassion for those who invoke youand with love for those who suffer heavily burdenswith the weight of my troubles,I cast myself at your feetand humbly beg of you to take my present concernswhich I recommend to you under your special protection.[Mention your intention(s) here…]Promise to recommend these to the Blessed Virgin Maryand lay them before the Throne of Jesus,so that He may bring it to a happy ending.Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.Above all, obtain for me the grace of one daycoming face to Face with God,and with you, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saintspraising and blessing together for all eternity.Amen.