Monday, June 30, 2003

St. Raymond Lull, evangelizer and martyr

Today is the memorial day of St. Raymond. He was a son of a noble family in the Balearic Islands. In due time he served in the royal court, attaining the rank of majordomo of the household. However, he became more and more aware of the emptiness of his life, and set out to lead a new one. He left the royal court, renounced his property, entered the Secular Franciscan community, and determined to spread the kingdom of Christ by the conversion of the Muslims.

To advance that determination, he established a college where Friars Minor could be instructed in the various languages, especially Arabic, that they would need in the Muslim missions. Once the college began to thrive, he became a hermit, withdrawing into solitude at Mount Randa, and remaining there for nearly a decade. After that time, he became a wandering evangelizer, preaching all over Europe and establishing seminaries in many places to train Catholic missioners.

Eventually he arrived at Bougie in North Africa, and, just as he did everywhere else, preached the glories of Jesus Christ. He was arrested there, and scheduled for execution, but some merchants entreated the authorities and Raymond was released. In due time, however, there was another opportunity to go to Bougie, and he went. He was immediately recognised, thrown out of the city, and stoned by a riotous mob who left him for dead. He wasn't quite, though; the sailors of a ship newly arrived in port found him, took him aboard, and sailed to Majorca, where Raymond died of his injuries just as they arrived in port there, June 29th, 1315.

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