In year 1204, in the city of Barcelona, Spain, a boy was born who shouldn’t have been. Complications during his birth led to a Caesarean section, during which the boy’s mother died. Doctors could not explain how he survived such an operation, and his survival was deemed a miracle. So, fittingly, his father named him Raymond Nonnatus. Nonnatus is Latin for “not born.”

After a dramatic birth, he lead a fairly quiet childhood, being noted as being quite pious. He spent most of his early days tending sheep in the fields and was known to devote a lot of time at a small country chapel near his house called St. Nicholas (this becomes relevant later….take notes!).

As he grew older, he felt drawn to the religious life, but his not-as-pious father tried to persuade him to pursue a career and ordered him to be in charge of one of the family farms. Apparently Raymond persisted, because eventually his father gave him permission to pursue a religious vocation. Raymond then swiftly joined the order of the Mercedarians at the ripe age of 18.

Now, you may ask: Who are the Mercedarians? They were a newly founded order established by St. Peter Nolasco in Barcelona, in 1218, just 14 years after Raymond was born. The order was founded to ransom Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa, who were often forced to renounce their faith through torture. They also take a pretty legendary fourth vow, which is: to die, if necessary, for another who is in danger of losing their faith.

Raymond made good on that vow. He traveled to Valencia, Spain (a recently conquered city by the Moors) where he freed 233 Christian prisoners. After that initial success, he went out to North Africa and freed an additional 250 slaves from captivity.

Having run out of money, he still continued to try to free more Christians, and, making good on that fourth vow, he sold all he had left, trading himself as a hostage for 28 more Christian captives. But he didn’t stop there, relentless and persistent, he began preaching to the prison guards and began to even convert them!

After several conversions took place, the local governor ordered an iron padlock to be pierced through his lips to stop him from gaining even more souls. Enduring 8 months of torture and captivity, he was ransomed by St. Peter Nolasco and brought back to Barcelona. He was appointed cardinal by the Pope, but died shortly afterwards on his way to Rome at the age of 36 on August 31st, 1240, by unknown causes.

After his death, his town and the friars began to fight over where his body would be buried. Some brilliant mind made the suggestion of letting God decide, so they put his body on a blind mule and said where it goes is where his body will be buried. Well, funny enough, the mule went to the doors of the old country chapel that he prayed at as a kid, and so it was decided, and St. Nicholas Chapel was the place of his burial.

Given his miraculous birth, he is the patron saint of expectant mothers, midwives, and childbirth.

If we lived for other souls as passionately as St. Raymond did, if we gave our entire life to save other’s souls, if we preached till our enemies had to literally lock our mouths shut, imagine the amount of souls we could save from an eternity of pain, of lovelessness, of hate. Let’s take a page from St. Raymond’s book and offer up something for a nonbeliever. If Raymond gave his entire life, we can give a few moments of ours.