Monday, February 14, 2011

SAN RAYMUNDO DE PENAFORT: Third Master of the Order of Preachers


c. 1175-1275
Third Master of the Order of Preachers

Of the noble family of Penafort, Saint Raymond was born in Barcelona around 1175.  He completed his university education in Bologna, was ordained to the priesthood and became a celebrated Master of Canon Law.  Sometime later, at the urging of his bishop, he returned to Barcelona where, in 1222, he received the habit of the Order of Preachers.

Within a year of his profession, Saint Raymond together with Saint Peter Nolasco, one of his penitents, founded the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of captives.  Called to Rome by Pope Gregory IX, who appointed him papal chaplain and penitentiary, Raymond began at once on a compilation and revision of the papal Decretals, which was to remain the basis of the Church’s Code of Canon Law until 1917.  He was named Archbishop of Tarragona, despite his protests, in 1235, and persuaded the Roman Pontiff to recall the appointment when he became seriously ill.

He composed, at the request of his brethren, the famous SUMA CASUUM, a manual for confessors and preachers is about the correct and fruitful administration of the Sacrament of Penance.

            In 1238, Raymond was elected Master of the Order and drew up a revision of the Dominican constitution (which was to remain in effect until 1924), but he resigned two years later on grounds of ill health.  Retiring to Barcelona, he spent the next thirty-five years preaching, hearing confessions and working for the conversion of Jews.  He established priories at Tunis and Murcia, studied the Koran so as to dialogue with Moslems, introduced the study of Arabic and Hebrew into several Dominicans houses, and was responsible for Saint Thomas Aquinas writing  the SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES.  Saint Raymond died on January 6, 1275 and was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in 1601.

                                    O God, you adorned your illustrious priest Raymond with the virtue of mercy towards sinners; grant through his intercession that, free from the slavery of sin, we may do with free heart what is pleasing to you.  This we ask you through Christ our Lord.  Amen



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