Parish History

The genesis of St. Raymond’s Parish began in 1842 when Reverend John Hughes obtained property and converted an old wooden barn into a temporary church.  Construction of the new Church began in 1843, and it became the first Catholic Church in the Bronx.  It was dedicated on the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, on August 31, 1845, thus getting its name.  In the beginning there was a strong prejudice against the Catholic Church.  However, as many Irish immigrants moved into the Bronx in the 1850’s, the Church quickly expanded. The original Church could not hold the 2,000 parishioners and at Masses many parishioners had to stand because it was over capacity.  On August 4, 1897, ground was broken for the new Church, which could accommodate all parishioners.  It was dedicated on October 23, 1898 and still stands today as the current Church of St. Raymond.

About Saint Raymond of Nonnatus

Our Church of Saint Raymond is named for Saint Raymond of Nonnatus, who was born in Catalonia, Spain in the year 1204, and was descended of a gentlemen's family of small fortune.

He joined the new Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the redemption of captives, and was admitted to his profession at Barcelona by the holy founder, St. Peter Nolvasco. Within two or three years after has profession, he was sent into Barbary with a considerable sum of money, where he purchased, at Algiers, the freedom of a great number of slaves. When all this treasure was exhausted, he gave himself up as a hostage for the ransom of certain others. This magnanimous sacrifice served only to anger the Muslims, who treated him with uncommon barbarity, until, fearing that if he died in their hands they would lose the ransom which was to be paid for the slaves for whom he remained a hostage. They gave orders that he should be treated with more humanity.

He was then permitted to go freely about the streets, which he took advantage of to comfort and encourage the Christians in their chains, and he converted and baptized some Muslims. The governor, who was enraged, ordered our Saint to be barbarously tortured and imprisoned until his ransom was brought by some religious men of his Order, who were sent with it by St. Peter. Upon his return to Spain, he was nominated cardinal by Pope Gregory IX, and the Pope, being desirous to have so holy a man about his person, called him to Rome. The Saint obeyed, but went no further than Cardona, when he was violently attached, which proved fatal.

He died in the year 1240, at thirty-six years of age. His feast day is August 31st. He is the patron Saint of child birth, expectant mothers, and infants.