Praying to Saints and Folk Magic: San Raimondo Nonnato

San Raimondo Nonnato, also known as St. Raymond Nonnatus, Raimund Nonnatus, San Ramon Nonato, or Sao Raimundo Nonato, is the is the patron saint of falsely accused people, innocent captives, midwives, newborns, those born by C-section, obstetricians, and priests who want to protect the secrecy of confession.

His feast day is August 31. His special weekday is Tuesday.

San Raimondo Nonnato was born in the early 13th century (circa 1204) and died on August 31, 1240. Not much factual information is known about this saint from Catalonia, Spain, and legends have sprung up to fill in details. His veneration (tributatogli) by the faithful began shortly after his death, and finally obtained papal approval in the 17th century.

The saint's mother died during labor, and he was somewhat miraculously delivered alive from her dead body by a Caesarean section. His Latin name, Nonnatus, meant "not born," and refered to his birth by Caesarean section. His manner of birth related to his patronage of midwives, obstetricians, newborns, and those born by C-section.

San Raimondo Nonnato is invoked against fever, false accusations, lies, gossip, slander, and ill talk. He is also petitioned for a safe delivery in childbirth, particularly during a C-section birth.

There is a story that San Raimondo was from a noble family, which is perhaps true, particularly considering his later success in his vocation.

In 1224, Raimund Nonnatus became a member of the Mercedarian Order (Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the Ransom of Captives), founded by his friend, San Pedro Nolasco, to ransom Christians captured and sold into slavery in the Moorish regions of Spain still occupied by the Arabs. Mercedarians sought to bring "redemption" in the literal sense. They would pay a sum of money to liberate these slaves and return them back to their family members and homes. Mercedarians also ministered to the religious and moral instruction of slaves in these Spanish regions.

After the Spaniards recaptured most of the territory, San Raimondo traveled to Algeria in North Africa, in order to continue his vocation ransoming Christian captives. A legend asserting his noble birth stated he spent his entire estate ransoming Christian prisioners in North Africa.

Legend also stated that he converted some prisioners in Algeria to Christianity so that he could ransom them from prison as well. Supposedly, he willingly surrendered himself as a hostage for one of the Christian prisoners when his funds ran out. However, it is possible he was arrested, either due to false allegations against him or his activities, because there are conflicting accounts about why he was imprisoned.

Apparently, he was falsely accused either prior to his imprisonment or during his imprisonment.

At one point, Raymond Nonnatus may have been sentenced to death, but this execution was stayed on account of his ransom value--perhaps because of his noble background or the order to which he belonged. Nevertheless, he was tortured while in captivity.

One important legend asserted that San Raimondo continued preaching the Christian faith while imprisoned. His jailors bored a hole through San Raimondo's lips with a hot iron, and attached a padlock to silence him.

He was eventually ransomed by his order and returned to Barcelona, Spain in 1239. He died of fever on route to Rome, allegedly to be named a cardinal.

Another legend stated that angels administered the Holy Communion to him as he lay feverish just before death.

Many miracles were attributed to him both before and after his death. His novena, or nine-day prayer, is used for many petitions.

Just as he is invoked for safe delivery due to the manner of his birth, he is invoked against fever due to the manner of his death. There is a formula for the blessing of water in honor of San Raimondo Nonnato to be used by the sick, and another for candles.

Not surprisingly, San Raimondo Nonnato is frequently depicted as a Mercedarian priest with ransomed slaves, or surrounded by Moors and prisoners. The most important iconographic illustration of this saint depicted him as a Mercedarian priest with a padlock on his lips. He is sometimes depicted wearing a cardinal's hat, though he was never a cardinal.

Due to the infamous legend of his Moorish captors and the padlock and the depictions showing San Raimondo Nonnato wearing a lock on his mouth, San Raimondo Nonnato/San Ramon Nonato/Sao Raimundo Nonato/St. Raymond Nonnatus, is petitioned to silence gossip and stop enemies from slander.

Candles with his image and prayer card are lit by those requesting silence and freedom from gossip. Locks are placed on the altar in honor of St. Raymond Nonnatus to stop malicious gossip, lies, rumors, false testimonies, and slander.

Interestingly, this same saint is petitioned to keep secrets. Some devotees request his help to stop using foul language, taking God's name in vain, or lying.

He is sometimes offered red candles.

Though his feast day is August 31 the "Sagra di San Raimondo Nonnato" or "Festa di San Raimondo Nonnato Bono" (Feast of San Raimondo Nonnatus Bono) is celebrated from August 28 to September 1 in the Sardinian town of Bono. Held at the end of August, this celebration involved religious ceremonies, civil ceremonies, folk customs, a horse race, and a historical costume parade with floats commemorating resistance during the 1796 anti-feudal uprisings. August 31 marks the "Pumpkin Festival" during which biggest pumpkin harvested from one of Bono's vegetable gardens is ironically presented to whoever took last place in the horse race. Perhaps due to the Pumpkin Festival, San Raimondo Nonnato also seems to be loosely associated with the harvest and the plants.

The chiesa di San Raimondo is a 17th century church in Siena, Tuscany, Italy.

copyright 2011 Myth Woodling

Useful Prayers: Novena to St. Raymond to Obtain Some Special Favor
Useful Prayers: Shortened Prayer to Blessed St. Raymond Nonnatus
Useful Prayers: St. Raymond Prayer
Hoodoo: Silence Gossip and Stop Enemies from Slander [see San Ramon Nonato (St. Raymond Nonnatus)]

Aradia home page