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Raymond of Penafort

c.1175-c.1275. Spanish canonist. Born near Barcelona where he studied and taught rhetoric and logic at the cathedral school until 1210, he then left for Bologna, where in 1216 he was appointed professor of law. In 1222 he joined the Dominicans and returned to Spain, where with Peter Nolasco* he helped to found the Mercedarians,* an order dedicated to redeeming Christian captives. He was appointed confessor, chaplain, and grand penitentiary to Gregory IX, who commissioned him to organize the papal decretals, a prodigious task he completed in four years (1234). His Summa de poenitentia, a handbook on penance, exercised a decisive influence on subsequent practice. In 1236 Raymond again returned to Spain where he became general of his order, and in this role reissued the constitutions of the order in definitive form. Resigning from the generalship, and concerned with the conversion of Jews and Muslims, he set up schools for the study of Hebrew and Arabic, and commissioned Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa contra Gentiles. He was canonized by Clement VIII in 1601.