· Calendar of Saints 

Saint Raymund Nonnatus
  August 31st  

    Saint Raymund was brought into the world at Portello in Catalonia in the year 1204, and was called non natus, "not born", because he was taken out of his mother after her death in labour. When he grew up he got his father's leave to enter the newly founded Mercedarian Order, and was admitted to profession therein at Barcelona by St. Peter Nolasco.

    So swift was the progress that he made that within two or three years after his profession he was judged qualified to discharge the office of ransomer, in which he succeeded St. Peter. Being sent into Barbary with a considerable sum of money he purchased at Algiers the liberty of a number of slaves. When all other resources were exhausted, he voluntarily gave himself up as a hostage for the ransom of others, whose situation was desperate and whose faith was exposed to imminent danger. The sacrifice which the saint made of his liberty served only to exasperate the Algerians, who treated him with barbarity till, fearing lest if he died in their hands they would lose the ransom stipulated for the slaves for whom he remained a hostage, the magistrate gave orders that he should be treated with more humanity. He was permitted to go about the streets and he made use of this liberty to comfort and encourage the Christians, and he converted and baptized some Mohammedans. When the governor heard of this he condemned him to be impaled. However, the persons who were interested in the ransome of the captives prevailed that his life should be spared lest they should be losers; and, by a commutation of his punishment, he was made to run the gauntlet. This did not daunt his courage. So long as he saw souls in danger, he thought he had yet done nothing; nor could he let slip and opportunity of ministering to them.

    St. Raymund had, on one side, no more money to employ in releasing poor captives; on the other, to speak to a Mohammedan upon the subject of religion was by the Islamic law to court death. He could, however, still exert his endeavours with hope of some success or of dying a martyr of charity. He therefore resumed his former method of instructing and exhorting both Christians and infidels. The governor was enraged, and commanded the servant of Christ to be whipped at the corners of all the streets in the city, his lips to be bored with a red-hot iron, and his mouth shut up with a padlock, the key of which he kept himself and only gave to the gaoler when the prisoner was to eat. In this condition he was kept in a dungeon, where he lay full eight months, till his ransom was brought by some of his order, who were sent with it by Nolasco. Raymund was unwilling to leave the country of the infidels, where he wanted to remain to assist the slaves; but he acquiesced in obedience, begging God to accept his tears, seeing he was not worthy to shed his blood for the souls of his neighbours.

    Upon his return to Spain in 1239 he was nominated cardinal by Pope Gregory IX. But so little was he affected by the unlooked-for honour that he neither changed his dress, nor his poor cell in the convent at Barcelona, nor his manner of living. The pope called him to Rome. St. Raymund obeyed, but could not be persuaded to travel otherwise that as a poor religious. He got no farther than Cardona (Cerdagne), which is only six miles from Barcelona; he was seized with a violent fever and died there, being only about thirty-six years old. He was buried in the chapel of St. Nicholas at Portello, and his name was inscribed in the Roman Martyrology in 1657. St. Raymund Nonnatus is the patron-saint of midwives, from the circumstances of his birth.

Butler's Lives of The Saints, Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater