Saint of the Day – 31 August – St Raymond Nonnatus O.deM (1204-1240). Religious Priest, Confessor, Cardinal, Founder of the Mercedarian Order. He was delivered by caesarean operation when his mother died in childbirth; hence the name non natus = not born. Born in 1204 at Portella, diocese of Urgel, Catalonia, Spain and died on 31 August 1240 at Cardona, Spain of a fever. He was buried at the Chapel of Saint Nicholas near his family farm he was supposed to have managed. He was Beatified on 5 November 1625 by Pope Urban VIII (cultus confirmed) and Canonised on 1657 by Pope Alexander VII. Patronages – against gossip, of silence, against fever, of babies, infants, newborns, childbirth, children, expectant mothers, pregnant women, falsely accused people, midwives, obstetricians, Baltoa, Dominican Republic, San Ramon, Costa Rica.
From the time he was very young, he manifested a great devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. He prayed the Rosary every day in the hermitage of St. Nicholas of Mira . Once Our Lady appeared to him and promised him her protection. Afterward he was strongly tempted to sin against chastity but did not fall. He went to thank his Patroness and consecrated his virginity to her. Mary appeared to him again, showing her satisfaction and advising him to enter the Order of the Mercedarians (Order of Mercy), whose foundation she had inspired St. Peter Nolasco to make only shortly before, in 1218.
He was ordained a Priest and dedicated himself to the redemption of captives until 1231. He liberated 140 captives in Valencia, 250 in Argel and 28 in Tunis. It was in this last city that he had the occasion to fulfill the special fourth vow of the Mercedarians to offer themselves to remain in captivity in the place of Catholic prisoners. Since he was unable to pay the ransom demanded by the slave dealers in Tunis, Raymond offered himself to take the place of some prisoners.
The trade was made and he began a hard captivity. To prevent him from speaking about Our Lord, for his engaging words were converting numerous Muslims, the Arabian slave masters pierced his lips with a red-hot iron and closed them with a padlock. This padlock was only opened for him to eat. After eight months of this torment, other Mercedarians arrived from Spain bringing the demanded ransom.
The last ten years of his life were spent in Rome, where he became the representative of his Order and in traveling throughout different countries to preach the Crusade. As a cardinal representative of Pope Gregory IX he was sent to meet with St Louis of France and encourage him to go on the Crusade, which actually took place 10 years later.
St. Raymond Nonnatus died in Cardona, a Spanish village close to Barcelona, on August 31, 1240. He was only 37-years-old.
One particular devotion is centered around the padlock that is part of his martyrdom. Locks are placed at his altar representing a prayer request to end gossip, rumours, false testimonies and other sins of the tongue. The locks are used as a visible sign of such prayer request, which first and foremost must take place interiorly, a prayer to God through St. Raymond’s intercession.
The Mercedarians – Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy:
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy is an international community of priests and brothers who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, their members take a special fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger.
The Order, also called the Mercedarians, or Order of Mercy, was founded in 1218 in Spain by St Peter Nolasco to redeem Christian captives from their Muslim captors. The Order exists today in 17 countries, including Spain, Italy, Brazil, India and the United States.
Today, friars of the Order of Mercy continue to rescue others from modern types of captivity, such as social, political, and psychological forms. They work in jails, marginal neighborhoods, among addicts and in hospitals.
The spiritual and communal life of the friars include prayer, meditation, Holy Mass, recreation and apostolate. Their life is based on the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order.
Overall, the Order of Mercy commits itself to give testimony to the same Good News of love and redemption that it has shown since the beginning of its history.