St. Raymond Nonnatus
Feast: August 31
Patron of Mercedarian novices, the falsely accused, expectant mothers, Christian family life, and of the unborn.
The traditional dates for the life of St. Raymond Nonnatus present him to us as a man of the 13th century. Born in Portell, when his mother had already died, he came into the world by the dagger of the Viscount of Cardona, who took the child out of his mother's womb; hence, he acquired the nickname Nonnatus (not born).
Nevertheless, 20th century research shows us a friar named Ramón Surrons, a native son of Portell, who participated in the chapter in El Puig (1324), and acted as a definite (counsellor of the Provincial) at the chapter in Lérida (1335). In the latter chapter he was appointed a redeemer, and during a redemption campaign in Algiers his lips were padlocked and he suffered other tortures. He then also participated in the election of the Master General, Vincente Riera.
We discover in Raymon a live dedicated to redemptive service, enduring the same sufferings as the captives, and sustained by the strength of the Eucharist, filial devotion to the Mother of God and mother of mankind.
According to tradition, the Pope decided to appoint him cardinal with the titular church of Saint Eustace, a Roman basilica near the Pantheon, where his image is preserved; but, while he was traveling to Avignon, he died in Cardona. Having no priest who could administer Viaticum to him, he received it miraculously, administered by Jesus Christ Himself accompanied by angels dressed in the Mercedarian habit, as depicted in the iconography. From there his remains were translated to the hermitage of Saint Nicholas in Portell.
No doubt he is the most popular Mercedarian saint, due especially to the activity of the Mercedarian missionaries to the nations who took him as their patron. For this reason, his image can be found scattered throughout the world with several elements that identify him, such as the palm of martyrdom with the triple crown, and the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in his right hand. Because of the miraculous instance of his birth, he is the patron saint of expectant mothers, who turn to him for protection at the moment of birth. In some countries, they pray to him also as the patron saint of pro-life institutions. The Order of Mercy includes in its Ritual two elements linked to Saint Raymond, the blessing of an expectant mother and the blessing of water for the benefit of the sick.
The Decree recognizing his immemorial cult was issued on November 5, 1625. He was included in the Roman Martyrology on June 19, 1655, and Clement IX granted the extension of his office and Mass to the whole Church ad libitum. Innocent XI raised his memorial to a second-class feast day obligatory for the whole Church on March 10, 1681.