St Raymond of Penafort

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Dominican friar and teacher. Patron of church lawyers. Raymond was born to an aristocratic family in 1175 in Catalona, Spain. He was educated at the cathedral school in Barcelona and became a priest. After completing his law degree in Bologna, Italy, he joined the Dominican order in 1218 and worked among the Moslems and Albigensians until he was called to Rome by Pope Gregory IX.

He became the Pope's confessor and was given the task of systemising and modernising canon law. His five legal books, which he completed in 1234, were used as standard texts by the church for the next 700 years.

In 1238 St Raymond became master general of the Dominicans and encouraged Thomas Aquinas to write his Contra Gentiles. Throughout his life he was concerned with the conversion of Moslems and Jewish people. In later life he lived for some time on Majorca. St Raymond is said to have been fearless of authority. On one occasion he admonished the King of Aragon for his dissolute lifestyle. He refused all honours, lived simply, worked very hard and died at the age of nearly a hundred in Barcelona in 1275. St Raymond was canonised in 1601.

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