Franciscan Tertiary and Martyr: 1232-1316
+ Raymond (or Ramón) was born in Palma, Majorca, and was the son of a military “chief” who had helped reclaim the island from the Moors. He grew up in a mixed society of Christians and Muslims.
+ He served in the court of King James and was, by all accounts, a wealthy, well-educated, and happily married man, although he also seems to have had numerous extramarital affairs.
+ At the age of 30, he experienced a profound conversion when, as he was writing a love poem, he had a vision of Christ crucified. This led him to abandon his life of luxury and devote himself to bringing the Moors to faith in Christ.
+ After making provisions for his family, he spent nine years studying Arabic and Arab scholarship and traditions, as well as the Muslim faith. He set up a missionary training college in Majorca that was administered by the Franciscans.
+ During this time, Raymond wrote prolifically on theology and philosophy and composed his famous romance, Blanquerna. As a layman, he was able to work somewhat independently of Church oversight, but this also meant he received little support for his mission.
+ The Franciscans accepted him as a lay member of their Order and he eventually traveled to Cyprus and then to Africa, although these missions were failures. Raymond returned to North Africa in 1316 and was subsequently arrested and stoned. Rescued by sailors from Genoa, he died on the ship as they were making their way back to Palma.
+ Raymond Lull has never been formally beatified, but he is honored as “Blessed” by the Franciscans.
Raymond was not the first Christian to imagine evangelization among the Muslims by using Arab scholarship as a starting point for dialogue. Centuries before Saint Isaac of Cordoba had the same dream and later saints, like Blessed Peter the Venerable, worked for the same goal.
“Death has no terrors for a sincere servant of Christ who is laboring to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth.”—Blessed Raymond Lull
O God, who in your Saints have given an example and brought us protection in our weakness to help us tread the path of salvation, mercifully grant that we, who honor the heavenly birthday of blessed Raymond, may, through his (her) example, make our way to you. 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. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Any Saint)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.