Wednesday, 7 January 2009

St Raymond of Penyafort

Born in Penyafort (Spain), he became a priest of the Diocese of Barcelona and was one of the greatest Canon Lawyers and Theologians of his time. In 1222, a year after the death of the glorious St Dominic, he entered the Order of Friars Preachers. He was known for his holiness and wisdom and worked hard towards the formation of new priests, for them he wrote a “Summa”, a collection of Pastoral teaching.
Posted to Rome he became the confessor of Pope Gregory IX (the friend of St Dominic who also canonised him in 1234), There he collected the various Dictatus Papae in one volume called the Decrateles, a book which is considered as a foundation document towards what is now known as the Code of Canon Law. He was asked to become an Archbishop but his humility prevented him from accepting such a high office.
In 1238 he was elected as the third Master of the Order of Preachers. He resigned his office after two years but not before he successfully edited the Constitutions of the Order.
Back at his monastery in Barcelona he was seen as an Apostle full of zeal for the conversion of souls. He engaged in dialogue with the Muslim world and encouraged missions in North Africa instructing them to learn Arabic and the Qur’an. He died in his monastery of Barcelona on the 6th January 1275, a hundred years old and was canonised by Pope Clement VIII on the 29th April 1601. Since 1835 his relics rest at the Cathedral Church of Barcelona.
On his feast day let us pray that through his intercession that Christians in the Muslim world can be encouraged in a difficult situation, that Canon lawyers may continue to provide pastoral solutions for those engaged in Ministry and that those who work in the formation of clergy may enable new priests to be indeed living icons of Christ, the High, Eternal and only Priest.

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