Raymond Nonnatus

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Saint Raymond Nonnatus, O. de M.
San Ramón Nonato alimentado por los ángeles.jpeg
Saint Raymond Nonnatus being fed by Angels
by Eugenio Caxés, 1630
Religious, priest and confessor
Born 1204
Portell, County of Segarra, Catalonia, Crown of Aragon
Died August 31, 1240(1240-08-31)
Castle of Cardona, County of Cardona, Catalonia, Crown of Aragon
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 1657, Rome, by Pope Alexander VII
Feast August 31
Attributes A Mercedarian friar wearing a cardinal's red mozzetta, holding a monstrance and a martyr's palm branch
Patronage Baitoa, Dominican Republic; childbirth; expectant mothers; pregnant women; newborn babies; infants; children; obstetricians; midwives; fever; the falsely accused; confidentiality of confession

Raymond Nonnatus, O. de M. (Catalan: Sant Ramon Nonat, Spanish: San Ramón Nonato, French: Saint Raymond Nonnat, Maltese: San Rajmondo Nonnato), (1204 – 31 August 1240) is a saint from Catalonia in Spain. His nickname (Latin: Nonnatus, "not born") refers to his birth by Caesarean section, his mother having died while giving birth to him.

Raymond is the patron saint of childbirth, midwives, children, pregnant women, and priests defending the confidentiality of confession.

Life[edit]

According to the traditions of the Mercedarian Order, he was born in the village of Portell (today part of Sant Ramon), in the Diocese of Urgell. He was taken from the womb of his mother after her death, hence his name.[1] Some traditions describe him as the son of the local Count, who is traditionally credited as the one to have performed the surgery which saved his life, others that he was born in a family of shepherds. Well educated in the first version, his father planned a career for his son at the royal court of the Kingdom of Aragon. When the boy felt drawn to religious life, his father ordered him to manage one of the family farms. What is known is that Raymond spent his childhood tending sheep and would often pray at an ancient country chapel nearby dedicated to St. Nicholas. If he was of aristocratic descent, clearly his father eventually abandoned hopes for his son's social advancement.

His father later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona.[1] The order was founded to ransom Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa. Raymond was trained by the founder of that Order himself, St. Peter Nolasco.[2] He was ordained a priest in 1222 and later became Master General of the Order.

Raymond then set out to fulfill the goals of Order. He went to Valencia, where he ransomed 140 Christians from slavery. He then traveled to North Africa, where he was able to ransom another 250 captives in Algiers, and then went to Tunis, where he is said to have surrendered himself as a hostage for 28 captive Christians when his money ran out, in keeping with a special fourth vow taken by the members of the Order. He suffered in captivity as a legend states that the Moors bored a hole through his lips with a hot iron, and padlocked his mouth to prevent him from preaching. He was ransomed by his Order and returned to Spain in 1239.[2]

Raymond died at the Castle of Cardona, sixty miles from Barcelona, either on August 26[3] or on August 31, 1240.[4] According to tradition, the local count, the friars and the town all claimed his body. To resolve this dispute, the body was placed on a blind mule, which was let loose. Unguided, it went to the nearby country chapel where he had prayed in his youth. It was there that he was buried.[2] Many miracles were attributed to him before and after his death.

In the historiography and hagiography from 16th century it is repeatedly claimed that upon his return to Spain in 1239. Pope Gregory IX nominated him Cardinal Deacon of Sant'Eustachio,[5] and that he died en route to Rome.[6] Consequently he is traditionally depicted as wearing the scarlet red mozzetta of a cardinal. However, Italian historian Agostino Paravicini Bagliani has established that this accounts resulted from a confusion of Raymond Nonnatus with Englishman Robert Somercote, the Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio 1238-1241, and has concluded that Raymond was never a cardinal.[7]

Raymond was canonized by Pope Alexander VII in 1657. His feast day is celebrated on August 31.[8]

Veneration[edit]

The towns of Saint-Raymond, Quebec, Canada, San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, Argentina, and São Raimundo Nonato, Brazil, are named for him. A shrine in Buenos Aires and the Roman Catholic Diocese of São Raimundo Nonato (Raymundianus) in Brazil are dedicated to him.

In the United States, the Parish of St. Raymond, in the New York City Borough of the Bronx, is under his patronage. So too is the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet, Illinois.[9] There is a parish dedicated to him in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico.[10]

Altar of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City

Due to the story of his own birth, Raymond quickly became widely invoked by women facing childbirth. This can be seen in the large number of santos depicting him found in the colonies of the Spanish Empire.

Because of his limited historical importance, however, since the reforms of the Church calendar in 1969, the liturgical commemoration of Raymond's feast day is no longer included among those to be necessarily observed wherever the Roman Rite is celebrated,[11] but, since he is included in the Roman Martyrology for August 31, Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours may be recited in his honor on that day as in the pre-1970 General Roman Calendar, which is observed by some traditionalist Catholics.

One particular ritual is centered around the padlock that is part of his martyrdom. Locks are placed at his altar to stop gossip, rumours, false testimonies and bad talk. They are also used to keep secrets, stop cursing or lying and to guard priests defending the confidentiality of confession. After placing a lock the person takes a seat in the main bench, for all to see.[12]

Iconography[edit]

He is pictured in the habit of his order surrounded by ransomed slaves, with a padlock on his lips.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The 2012 BBC drama series Call the Midwife features Nonnatus House, a convent of Religious Sisters of the Church of England, set in a deprived area of the East End of London in the 1950s. Based on the successful memoir trilogy of the same name, the author Jennifer Worth used Nonnatus House as a pseudonym for the Anglican community of the Sisters of St John the Divine in Whitechapel where she actually had worked.[13] In the Christmas special,[14] broadcast simultaneously on PBS[15] in America also, one of the plotlines features the discovery of an infant foundling on the convent doorstep, who is then dubbed Raymond by the nurses and Sisters in honor of closest male associated with his birth, the convent's patron.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mershman, Francis. "St. Raymond Nonnatus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 30 Jan. 2014
  2. ^ a b c "Saint Raymond Nonnatus". Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  3. ^ C. Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica, vol. I, p. 6
  4. ^ "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., June 1, 1955, p. 344
  5. ^ Cf. Eubel, p. 6
  6. ^ "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, p. 344
  7. ^ Paravicini Bagliani A., Cardinali di Curia e "familae" cardinalizia dal 1227 al 1254, Padova 1972, pt. II, p. 534-535
  8. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  9. ^ Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus
  10. ^ "Historia". Parroquia San Ramón Nonato. 22 August 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2013. (Spanish)
  11. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 137
  12. ^ Plate in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.
  13. ^ "Jennifer Worth obituary". The Guardian. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  14. ^ "Call the Midwife Christmas Special". BBC One. 30 Dec 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  15. ^ "Call the Midwife Christmas Special". Various local PBS stations. 30 Dec 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 

Sources[edit]

  • Elizabeth Hallam (ed.), "Saints: Who They Are and How They Help You" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 33.
  • "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., June 1, 1955, p. 344

External links[edit]