Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Raymond of Peñafort (1175–1275)

Saint Raymond of Peñafort (1175–1275)

Patron saint of lawyers, barristers, canonists, and medical record librarians

Feast day: January 7

Saint Raymond of Peñafort was born to Aragonian nobility in Spain and was well educated. He taught philosophy and received doctoral degrees in both canon law and civil law. At the age of 41, he joined the Dominicans. He was then summoned to Rome to work for Pope Gregory IX. One of Raymond’s tasks was to collect all of the decrees from popes and councils that had been made in the previous eighty years. He gathered these materials and created five books, called the Decretals. Raymond was selected as the archbishop of Tarragona at the age of 60. He did not feel that he deserved the honor and praise that the position entailed; after two years, sickness allowed him to resign. He was soon elected to a new leadership role by his fellow Dominicans—head of the entire order. Raymond worked hard in his new position. He walked far and wide to visit all of his fellow Dominicans, reorganized their constitutions, and established a new rule that allowed the master general to step down. When the new constitutions were accepted, Raymond stepped down as head of the order. He worked diligently over the next thirty-five years, preaching against heresies and striving for the conversion of the Moors in Spain. It was through his persuasion that Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote Against the Gentiles. Saint Raymond Peñafort lived to the astounding age of 100 years old. He was canonized in 1601. (Image in public domain-100)