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Saint Raymond of Penafort OP

Saint Raymond of Penafort OP
  • Century: 12th & 13th Century
  • Patronage: Canon Lawyers, Lawyers
  • Feast Day: January 7th

St. Raymond of Penafort was born in a small town near Barcelona around 1175.  He was educated in Barcelona and at the University of Bologna, where he received his doctorates in both civil and Canon law.  From 1195 to 1210 he taught Canon law.  In 1210 he moved to Bologna, where he remained until 1222, including three years occupying the Chair of Canon law at the University.  He was the Chaplain to Pope Alexander IV, and the Confessor of King James I of Aragon.   Later that year, he joined the Dominican Order.  

Raymond returned to the Iberian Peninsula in 1236, and was made Master of the Order of Preachers in 1238.  During his tenure he revised the Dominican Constitutions.  After the age of sixty, he retired in Barcelona.  He was instrumental in founding the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.  

Knowing Raymond’s reputation in the juridical sciences, Pope Gregory IX summoned him to Rome in 1230, to help in the rearranging and codifying of Canon Law.  Canon laws, which were previously found scattered in many publications, were to be organized into one set of documents.  Once finished, with the great work and efforts of Raymond, the Pope announced the new publication in a Bull directed to the doctors and students of Paris and Bologna in 1231, commanding that Raymond alone should be considered authoritative, and should alone be used in the schools.  His collection of Canon law known as the “Decretals of Gregory IX” became a standard for almost 700 years.  When Raymond completed his work, the Pope appointed him Archbishop of Tarragona, but he declined the honor.  Raymond followed this with the publication of a work on penitential discipline, “Summa Casuum”, which is widely considered an authoritative work on the subject, even today.  Canon law was finally and fully codified by 1917.  

St. Raymond died in 1275, and was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in the year 1601.  He is buried in the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, in Barcelona.  

Practical Take Away

St. Raymond was a Dominican Priest, who was very gifted in the science of law.  He earned a Doctorate in both Civil and Canon Law.  He taught at the University of Bologna, and was summoned by Pope Gregory IX to Rome, to help codify the Canon law.  Up until then each Pope had made changes, and they were scattered about in many places.  He put them all in one publication, and it was the standard for over 700 years thereafter.  He died in 1275, and was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in 1601.  He is buried in the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, in Barcelona.