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Ordinary Time: August 31st

Saturday of the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Daily Readings for: August 31, 2013
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: St. Raymund Nonnatus, confessor

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Raymund Nonnatus who devoted his life to the ransoming of Christians held prisoner by the Mohammedans. He was one of the first members of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom (or Mercedarians) founded by St. Peter Nolasco and St. Raymund of Penafort. Having been sent to Africa he obtained the freedom of many captives; he offered his own person as a pledge for ransom that was not forthcoming in order to preserve from apostasy those whose faith was wavering. When he was set free he was made a Cardinal by Gregory IX and died on his return to Rome in 1240.


St. Raymund Nonnatus
Peter Nolasco, a native of Languedoc, founded in the early thirteenth century a society known as the Mercedarians, devoted to ransoming Christians captured by the Moors.

Amongst those he received into the society was a Catalonian named Raymond. This Raymond's mother had died giving birth to her son, and he was delivered by a caesarian section — hence his nickname Nonnatus, which is Latin for 'not born'. So determined was Saint Raymond Nonnatus that when Peter Nolasco retired as chief ransomer, the saint succeeded him in this office. He set off for Algiers with a great sum of money, and there ransomed many.

When his money ran out, Saint Raymond Nonnatus could have made his own escape. But this would have involved leaving several slaves behind. He gave himself up in exchange for their liberty.

His own life was now in great danger. The Moors of Algiers were enraged that he had managed to convert some of their number. The governor would have put him to death by impaling the saint on a stake. What saved him were others who realized that a rich ransom would be paid for this particular Christian. Even so, he was still whipped publicly in the streets — partly to discourage those who might be tempted to learn from him the Christian faith. Reports of his tortures probably exaggerated the cruelty of his Moorish captors but after eight months of torture, Peter Nolasco arrived with Raymond Nonnatus's ransom. Even then he wanted to stay behind, hoping to convert still more men and women to Christianity; but Peter Nolasco forbade it.

On his return, Pope Gregory IX made him a cardinal. The pope wished to see Raymond Nonnatus in Rome, but on his way there in the year 1240 he reached only Cardona near Barcelona, where he died at the age of thirty-six.

Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley

Patron: childbirth; children; expectant mothers; falsely accused people; fever; infants; midwives; newborn babies; obstetricians; pregnant women.

Symbols: Padlock; crown of thorns; three or four crowns.

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