Let’s talk about Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of pregnant women, childbirth, and newborn infants.
Ray’s “last name” was Nonnatus which means unborn. While his name sounds really cool, it’s also a little sad. Raymond has his name because his mother died in childbirth, which made him a bit of a delivery boy instead.
Being born into a noble Spanish family, Raymond’s father had really high hopes for his son, hoping that he could serve in the Royal Court. Raymond kept disagreeing with his father’s expectations and wanted to go into religious life. The father thought that Raymond was wasting his time and sent him to work at a family farm in an attempt to convince Raymond. Instead of obeying his father’s wishes, Raymond decided to be the rebellious kid that he was. He would often be seen with the other workers talking, studying, or praying.
Raymond’s father eventually gave in and allowed him to join the Mercederians, originally a religious order to ransom slaves from the Moors. Raymond spent every bit of money that he could get a hold on to free more and more. At one point, he even offered himself for the freedom of a single slave. When the governor learned that Raymond’s action had converted many Mohammedans, he was sentenced to impalement, which he later escaped from due to the amount of money his ransom would bring.
Raymond’s imprisonment didn’t stop him from converting others. When he succeeded at converting some of his guards, his captors burned a hole in his lips and locked them shut. He was tortured until Peter Nolasco, the former chief ransomer, retrieved Raymond and returned him to Barcelona in 1239.
Raymond was made a cardinal by Pope Gregory IX before dying the next year in 1240.
Image by Ramon FVelasquez [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons