05 October 2009

Blessed Raymond of Capua

5 OCTOBER 2009. Today we celebrate the optional memorial of Blessed Raymond of Capua, Friar, Priest, and Master of the Dominican Order.

Quite often the lives of saints are filled with some hardship through which the saint bears the cross of calvary with Christ. However, it is not many saints that are indeed the spiritual advisor to a saint. Not that this is a particularly difficult hardship, but image the depth of spiritual resource and faith one must have to serve in that ministry. That is the case for Blessed Raymond of Capua, who was the spiritual advisor to Saint Catherine of Siena.

Raymond delle Vigne was born in Capua, Italy in about 1330. He studied at the University of Bologna, and entered the Dominican Order there in 1350. After entering the Order, Blessed Raymond held several positions in Rome, Florence, and Sienna. Through his work in Sienna, Blessed Raymond was assigned to be the spiritual advisor of Saint Catherine of Sienna, and became her friend, confidant, biographer, guide and disciple.

Father Raymond and Catherine met for the first time when she was assisting him at mass on the feast of St. John the Baptist. During the mass Catherine heard and inner voice saying: "This is my beloved servant. This is he to whom I will entrust you." Blessed Raymond later wrote an extraordinary biography of Saint Catherine of Sienna.

In May 1380, Blessed Raymond was elected as Master of the Order for that portion of the Dominicans that remained faithful to the Roman Pontiff, Urban VI. In his role as Master of the Order, Blessed Raymond worked hard to restore peace to a Church rent by schism and to bring discipline to the Order of Preachers. In fact, Father Raymond's reforms of the Order were considered so important, that some history refers to him as the second founder of the Dominicans.

Blessed Raymond worked with plague victims in Sienna and eventually caught the disease itself. However, he lived until the age of 69, dying of natural causes in Nuremburg, Germany on 5 October 1399.

Pope Leo XIII beatified Father Raymond on 15 May 1899.

IMAGE: Saint Catherine of Sienna dictating to Blessed Raymond of Capua. Detroit Institute of Arts.

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