Protector of Babies and Expectant Mothers, Mercedarian Priest (1204-1240)
+ Raymond was born to a noble family in Portella, Spain. His nickname of Nonnatus (“not born”) refers to his birth by Caesarean section, his mother having died as she was giving birth.
+ Although he felt drawn to religious life, his father made him oversee the family’s flocks and holdings. Raymond responded by spending time with the workers (rather than overseeing them) and his father eventually relented and gave the Raymond the permission that he desired.
+ Raymond chose to enter the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (the Mercedarians) and was clothed in the religious habit by the order’s founder, Saint Peter Nolasco. The Mercedarians had a special vocation of ransoming Christians enslaved by Muslims and Raymond embraced this charism. He was eventually imprisoned when he offered to take the place of another Christian.
+ He was tireless in proclaiming the Christian Faith, even while in prison, and to prevent him from this, his captors bored holes in his lips and sealed his mouth with a padlock. After being repeatedly tortured, he was eventually ransomed and was able to return to Spain in 1239.
+ Raymond was created a cardinal but continued to live as a humble religious. He died on August 31, 1240, as he was making his way to Rome on papal business. Canonized in 1657, he is honored as a patron saint of expectant mothers and babies and as a protector in childbirth.
For prayer and reflection
“We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed; full of doubts, we never despair. We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed. Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed.”—2 Corinthians 4:8-10
On August 31, the Church also honors the memory of Saint Joseph Arimathea and Saint Nicodemus. Leaders among the Jewish community in Jerusalem, Joseph provided a tomb and, with Nicodemus (whose encounter with Jesus is recounted in John 3), helped prepare the body of Jesus for burial (see John 19). Later popular legends purport that Joseph brought the Holy Grail to England.
in Saint Raymond Nonnatus,
faithful worshiper of the Eucharist
and loyal son of the Virgin Mary,
you have given a fearless redeemer of Christian captives to your Church.
Faithful to the light of the Holy Spirit
may we follow the example of his unbounded charity
in sharing the trials of the oppressed.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from the Mercedarian supplement to the Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.