Has Your Name Got A Patron Saint?

Are you OK because you have a name like Mary and have plenty  of namesakes who are saints?

Or have you spent most of your life, as I have, bemoaning that no saint has been given my name?   Take heart.  My name is Raymond.  At the age of 83 I have disscovered that there is a  Saint Raymond after all!   However, the details of St. Raymond are so appalling that you may wish to bin this idea for ever!

Born in Portell,  Catalonia, when his mother had already died, he came into the world by the dagger of the Viscount of Cardona, who took the child out of his mother's womb; hence, he acquired the nickname Nonnatus (not born).

Raymond spent his childhood tending sheep and would often pray at an ancient country chapel nearby dedicated to St. Nicholas.  

His father later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona. The order was founded to ransom Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa.  He was ordained a priest in 1222 and later became leader of the Order.

Raymond then set out to fulfill the goals of Order. He went to Valencia 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  hostagefor 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 padlaocked his mouth to prevent him from preaching. He was ransomed by his order and returned to Spain in 1239.

Raymond died in 1240. According to tradition, 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.[Many miracles were attributed to him before and after his death.

Raymond was canonised in 1657. His feast day is celebrated on August 31.

Raymond is the patron saint of childbirh, midwives, children, preghnant women, and priests defending the right to confidenetiality in confessions. 

In popular culture the BBC drama series Call the Midwife features Nonnatus House, a convent of religious sisters of the Church of England  is set in a deprived area of theEast End of London in the 1950s. The series is based on the successful memoir trilogy of the same title, in which 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 worked. In the Christmas special,[broadcast simultaneously on PBS 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 honour of the closest male associated with his birth, the convent's patron.


Posted at 15:25pm on 8th March 2024
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