Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort

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St. Raymund

Today’s saint is one you’re likely to pass by just because of his name, which looks, at first glance, to be St. Raymond of Pinafore. His name sounds silly and posh, like Little Lord Fauntleroy.

As a lawyer, he was known as a champion of the poor.

But St. Raymond (1175-1275) was a remarkable man, one worth our attention and emulation. First, and this has nothing to do with his holiness, he lived to one hundred years old in the 12th and 13th centuries. And he used those years well.

By the age of 20, Raymond was a beloved professor at the University of Barcelona. Then he went to Italy to study law. As a lawyer, he was known as a champion of the poor.

When Raymond was 47, at an age when most of his peers were dead or dying, he decided to become a Dominican priest. Once ordained, he set out to preach all over Europe. He discovered in preaching his true love and vocation.

The pope asked Raymond to move to Rome to become his spiritual director. He used his connections to continue advocating for the poor. He also used his legal skills to organize church law. His system worked so well that it was used for 700 years.

Raymond was made a bishop. But he wanted a quieter life and, after suffering a serious illness, he asked to be removed from his office. He recovered and returned to his first love: preaching and hearing confessions.

Still Raymond suffered the curse of the competent. In his retirement, at the age of 63, he was named head of the Dominican Order. For two years he served, visiting every house in the order. At age 65 he retired, finally.

But he lived for 35 more years, during which he continued to preach and lead many, many people to faith.

Do you know someone — a family member, a friend from your parish or neighborhood, a former teacher or coworker — who is in a nursing home? Honor St. Raymond, who lived to great and holy old age, by paying that person a visit today. Resolve to make regular visits a part of your year.