Christmas Miracles: St Raymond gives women with infertility hope

During the Christmas season our minds necessarily are turned to the birth of a poor child in a manger. There is something so human so compelling about the Nativity scene. It is unique to our frail human condition and while at the same time so beyond imagination. God comes to us in a way which both beckons us to Him and makes us feel safe approaching the Creator of all things. This way is through a baby. Each time we see an infant we want to smile. We want to approach this human being which is so helpless and beautiful. But not all feel this way when they see a baby.

Miraculous births are one of God's specialties
Miraculous births are one of God’s specialties

There are those women, increasing in number, who desperately want to have a child, but cannot because of infertility. Certainly this is not a new problem the Scriptures are filled with stories of women who were “barren”. Since for the ancients children were considered a blessing, they were seen as cursed by God. Left to feel as if they were less than a woman or a wife. However, for several of these women their “barrenness” was to be an opportunity for God’s powerful intervention in our world. What seemed to be a curse would become a great blessing! Take for example Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who was “childless because she was not able to conceive (Gen. 11:30)”. Yet, the Lord enabled her to bear a son at the age of 90 (Gen. 17:15-17). In the last week of Advent, we also remember the two other miraculous births. First, the birth of Samson to a woman who “was barren and had borne no children (Jg. 13:2).” Second is Zechariah and Elizabeth who “had no child, because Elizabeth was barren (Lk. 1:7).” To both of these couples God intervened through an angel to announce that they would give birth. Each one of these cases of miraculous births became for all times a prophecy or foreshadowing of the one event which took place in the Incarnation. The birth of Christ was the ultimate miraculous conception as God became man in the womb of a virgin.

However, all of this may be of no consolation to a woman who is childless. As one infertile woman explains, “Until very recently, I never noticed all the pregnant people constantly surrounding me. I noticed baby clothes, because they were cute, but not in the heart-wrenching, horrible way I notice them now. Everyone is pregnant, and there are babies everywhere, or so it seems to me.” Yes, for a woman, created to give life, it is a strange paradox to be childless. They and their husbands experience the loneliness of being unable to relate to so many friends who have children. These woman must live with stigma which goes with being childless. The questions about, “When are you going to have a child?” The assumptions about things they may or may not be doing or have done to prevent conception. But, possibly the worst is the recognition that having a child is a blessing from God one which they have not been given. They can’t help but see child baring as a “reward from God”.

16% of women have difficulty conceiving a child
16% of women have difficulty conceiving a child

The Christmas season may be especially painful for these woman. For they must attend parties and family gatherings answering the inevitable questions. Children running around the Christmas tree. Parents speaking about the enjoyable holiday traditions that they have with their families. Making cookies and wrapping gift, while noticing the immense joy in their child’s eye. Proudly exchanging professional pictures of their children in a Christmas scene. What a joyful season for those woman with a child, but what a painful experience for those who are unable to conceive.

Even the sight of the Christ Child in the manger can be a painful reminder. Yes, the Baby Jesus is an image of Hope for us all, but also a reminder of what may never be for those infertile. It may even make them avoid the Nativity scene or cringe at the sight.

However to remain focused only on the physical birth of a baby in Bethlehem is to miss the entire meaning of the Incarnation. Jesus says in Luke 4:18 that he was sent “proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” He is the Emmanuel or “God with us” and not just any normal child born in poverty. This is the source of hope that we must impress upon those women who are held captive to infertility. Jesus does care immensely for them and their painful situation. And, He did and still does perform miracles.

A saint that helps the infertile.
A saint that helps the infertile.

One of the ways Christ chooses to perform miracles is through His Saints. These are His intimate friends who are united with him in heaven. They intercede on our behalf all the time and have a special interest in those who invoke their assistance. There are many saints who are patrons of women who are unable to conceive, but one of the most powerful is St. Raymond Nonnatus. This Saint has perform numerous miracles on behalf of women seeking to conceive. St Raymond’s life story shows forth the immense power of God to work miracles. Raymond was born in the beginning of the 13th Century in Spain. He was given the surname of Nonnatus or not born because he came into the world through an inspired and urgent incision which his uncle made with a dagger in the abdomen of Raymond’s mother who had died. Raymond’s unusual birth would be a sign of the wonders God wished to do through his life. Raymond would grow up into a very pious man who gave his life to God as a priest in the Order of the BVM of Mercy.


The St Raymond kit
The St Raymond kit

Since St Raymond’s death in 1240, he has been invoked as the patron of expected mothers. For over 700 years women have turned to him for help in conceiving and childbirth. So many miracles have occurred that it would be difficult to count. Here in the United States, the friars of the Order of Mercy have promoted devotion to St Raymond since they came to the country in the 1920’s. Since the 1950’s the popularity of the St Raymond’s Guild has grown in America. The Order has shipped thousands of St Raymond kits throughout the United States. These kits are composed of the Magnificat book (prayer book for expectant mothers and Christian families), St Raymond holy card, blessed candle, and blessed St Raymond water. The blessed candle, water, and prayer book are to be used by those desiring to have a child and expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy.
For each one of us, the Advent season offers an opportunity to walk with Mary who is expecting the Messiah. What a beautiful spiritual analogy to lead us into prayer and works of charity in the days preceding Christmas. However, let us not forget that for infertile women, whose number has risen to 15%, this can be a painful image. Christ came to bring light to those in darkness. Women in need not remain in the darkness of the shame of infertility. God still performs miracles. He gave St. Raymond life through the intercession of his uncle. And for hundreds of years women have been given hope through St. Raymond’s powerful prayers.

Christmas is a time for miracles. The greatest of all miracles occurred when God became man in the womb of a humble virgin. Surely, the Christ Child knows the pain of those women who are childless. Jesus wishes them to come to Him believing that God still performs miracles! Through the intercession of St Raymond Nonnatus patron of childbirth and Christian families may the Lord continue to perform miracles this Christmas. May many women, who long to give life, continue to have their prayers answered in powerful ways!

For more information on the St Raymond Guild contact: (585) 768-7426

St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron of families, pray for us!

Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M. has been the Order’s novice master for over 35 years. He imparts a little of his “pearls” of knowledge to us about St. Raymond Nonnatus.

SSt.-Raymond-statue-in-LeRoy-NYat., Aug. 31, 2013
Feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus

Just a little thought for today’s feast.

How wonderful that we bring the statue of Saint Raymond Nonnatus to our parish of Our Lady of Mercy. And I think it is so important for us to realize a few facts about him.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus is the patron for life, for expectant mothers, and for families.

He was one of the original companions of Saint Peter Nolasco in the early 1200s. He was chosen as a priest and as a ransomer for the Christian captives. Now it is important for us to realize that in the General Chapter, when they chose him, it was because of three factors: he could speak to Moslems, he was very holy, and he was heroic in that he would die for the faith. So, he was chosen.

And as we know, Saint Raymond did go on campaign for the Christian captives – to save them. And while he was there he suffered for the faith – for the truth. And the Pope, because of his great heroic sanctity, made him a cardinal.

Patron for families

Now it is important for us to know that Saint Raymond is not only the patron for life, and for expectant mothers, but also for families. How we need a patron for families! And we need this intercessor because we all must realize, we must know that in our families there are trials, difficulties, crosses and disappointments. Saint Raymond wants to be an advocate for us.

Fr Eugene
Fr Eugene

I would like to share with you something about this statue. Notice that he has the palm of martyrdom – Saint Raymond did not suffer death, but he suffered for the truth, and proclaiming that truth. There are three crowns on the top of that palm of martyrdom.

The first crown was that he was confessor to the truth. He proclaimed the truth, he lived the truth, he suffered for the truth and the papacy gave him the office of cardinal because of that. Saint Raymond’s statue is on the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The second crown is that he was truly a saint, very holy, for he loved the faith. He is shown always with the monstrance because of his true sanctity and his purity which he kept all his life.

St. Raymond Nonnatus redeemer of captives and miracle worker

 St. Raymond Nonnatus is one of the most beloved saints for Christian families. He was born in the early 13th century. Raymond was nonnatus or “not born” since he was taken out of his dead mothers womb by his uncle. His miraculous life continued as he enter the Order of Mercy and became a heroic redeemer of Captives. Here is his story:


Patron of families
Patron of families

One of the most illustrious Saints of the Order of Mercy for the redemption of captives was St. Raymond Nonnatus.

His Superiors chose him to go to Africa, to pursue in the midst of the barbarians of that country the pious purposes for which the Order had been divinely instituted. This mission filled him with great joy.

On reaching Africa he took up his abode in Algeria a place to which the pirate ships conveyed the Christian prisoners whom they had captured on the high seas, and where they were exposed and sold as slaves in the market-places, or awaited the ransom demanded for their deliverance.

The number of these captives was so great at the time of the Saints arrival that he had not sufficient money to redeem them all. But as his charity for these unfortunate people embraced them all with out exception, he resolved to deliver them all from their terrible bondage. To accomplish this, having purchased as many as his limited resources permitted, and having agreed concerning the amount of ransom demanded for the rest, he procured their liberation, offering himself as a hostage till such time as the money required would be sent.

The Saint was then loaded with chains ; but he thanked God from his inmost heart for having given him this opportunity of suffering something for the love of Him Who had died on the Cross to redeem the whole world.

It would be impossible to describe the cruelty of these barbarians towards him, or the sufferings they caused him to endure during the time of his captivity. They were so great that the Cadi or Judge of the place, fearing that he would die under them, and that thus he would forfeit the money he hoped to receive, gave command by sound of trumpet to all concerned that the hostage was not to be further molested, and that if he should die on account of the treatment he received at their hands, he would hold them responsible for his death, and that they themselves would have to pay the ransom agreed upon for his deliverance.

120Raymond availed himself of this opportunity to perform heroic works of charity among the Christian captives who arrived day after day, and were subjected to the most unheard-of cruelty. He would visit them in their dungeons and console them, and encourage and confirm them in their faith. He extended his charity even to the infidels, instructing them when opportunity offered in the truths of the Catholic Religion. Many, even amongst the most obstinate, embraced Christianity, and among them two Moors of high rank, who received the Sacrament of Baptism at his hands.

These good works of St. Raymond could not long remain concealed. The Pasha, named Setim, was informed of them, and, being filled with anger, ordered him to be cruelly beaten with rods.

This sentence was carried out with excessive severity, but it was far from restraining the zeal of the holy apostle. He continued to instruct those who manifested any desire to learn the truths of the Christian Faith, and to console and strengthen in their torments those among the Christians whom he perceived to waver in their resolution, or whom the hardship of their condition placed in the danger of renouncing their Faith.

A padlock was placed on St Raymond's lips.
A padlock was placed on St Raymond’s lips.

When the Pasha heard of this further despising of his commands, lie ordered him to be scourged in all the streets of the city ; then he pierced his lips with a hot iron rod, and joined them together with a padlock, the key of which was entrusted to the care of the Cadi, who only allowed it to leave his hands when it was necessary to give his prisoner food. He also ordered him to be thrown into one of the deepest dungeons and loaded with chains.

In this sad condition the holy man could not open his mouth to publish the praises of God, but it did not hinder him from opening his heart to speak to Him the language of love by prayers, desires, and holy thoughts. One day as his mind was occupied in pious contemplation, he fell into an ecstasy. His gaolers coming to give him some food, found him in this state prostrate on the ground, his head being supported by his right hand, while the fingers of the left were lying on a book open at his side, and were touching the following verse of Psalm cviii. :“O Lord my God, take not the word of truth from my mouth.” Seeing this, they were astonished, but this astonishment became greater when they heard him utter, with his lips still closed, another verse of the Psalmist : “Thy word, O God, endureth forever.”

The Moors attributed this to enchantment, and to make him cease speaking they beat him with rods and struck him with their feet, then left him with his lips still fastened, without giving him anything to eat.

St. Raymond lived for eight months in the midst of this cruel treatment, which he bore with unparalleled constancy. At the end of that time the religious of his Order arrived with the money that had been fixed upon for his release. The Cadi, who was a man of great avarice, was not satisfied with the amount they had brought, and desired still to retain him. The man of God himself, inflamed with charity for his neighbour, would willingly have remained to console his dear captives in their afflictions, but his brethren succeeded in obtaining his

release, and he returned with them.

St Raymond’s Feast is August 31st. He is the Patron of expected mothers, pre-born babies Christian families and those falsely accused.

The catechism in examples (1908)

A saint that helps the infertile.
A saint that helps the infertile.

Author: Chisholm, D
Volume: 5
Vol. 5
London : Burns Oates & Washbourne ltd
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: English
Call number: AKD-5986
Digitizing sponsor:
Book contributor:
Regis – University of Toronto
regislibrary; toronto

Problems with infertility go to St Raymond Nonnatus!!