January 23 -- St. Raymond of Penafort
St. Raymond of Penafort was born of a noble family who were related to the kings of Aragon. He was a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas and like him, he was an intelligent and able student. In 1222, St. Raymond entered the Dominican order . Besides writing a collection of works for confessors and moralists, he founded, along with St. Peter Nolasco, the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of Christians who were captured by the Moors.
As confessor and adviser to King James of Aragon, St. Raymond made know his abhorrence of the sins prevalent at court. When the king protested and threatened St. Raymond not to leave his presence, Raymond went to the sea, spread his cloak on the water, set his staff as a mast and set course for Barcelona. In this way, he miraculously traveled 140 miles in six hours. Numerous conversions followed this wonderful miracle.
As a very old man, St. Raymond continued his concern with the conversion of the Jews and the Moors. He supported and staffed missionary schools which taught Hebrew and Arabic. Through his encouragement, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote "Summa Contra Gentiles" to expose the errors of the Mohammedans. St. Raymond died in 1275 at 100 years old.
St. Raymond is a marvelous example of how we should work untiringly for the kingdom of God on earth. He also shows us to hate sin and to flee from it without hesitation. Let us ask him for these virtues.