Saint Raymond of Peñafort: The Iconography

In Barcelona, Spain, the natal day Not his birthday but the day he died and was "born again" into Heaven of St. Raymund of Peñafort, of the Order of Preachers, Confessor, known for his sound teaching and his sanctity. His feast is actually celebrated on January 23. – Roman Martyrology for January 6

This saint is sometimes pictured as at right, skimming across the sea with his cape as both boat and sail. His vita claims that he accompanied James I of Aragon on a visit to Majorca. Unable to dissuade the king from his hedonistic lifestyle, he announced he was going back to Barcelona. James ordered him to stay and forbade any sailor to transport him, but Raymond sailed away undeterred as shown.1

Less fanciful images identify St. Raymond by references to his life work. As Archdeacon in Barcelona he promoted the mission of preaching to Jews and Muslims, so in the picture at right below we see him pointing to an image of Jesus. He also holds a book under his arm, referring to his works on canon law and moral cases, and his right hand holds a wand and key, symbolizing his status as Master-General of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

After Raymond's death a great many miracles were attributed to him, but the accounts of his life mention very few. In one he is said to have interceded with God to let an apparently dead person have a few more moments of life so as to confess and be absolved of his sins (image).

Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University


1692 Relief panel: The saint sails away to Barcelona (See description page)

17th century portrait with attributes (See the description page for the complete painting.)


  • Wand and key
  • Black and white Dominican habit


  • 16th century: A fresco in a church in Murano.
  • Undated: Keys are used as St. Raymond's attribute in this statue in a Dominican church in Vicenza, Italy.


  • Feast day: Originally January 23, now January 7 in the Catholic calendar
  • Born 1180, died 1275


  • Sometimes one sees Peñafort spelled Pennafort and Raymond spelled Raymund.



1 The incident is described in Raymond's vita in the Acta Sanctorum, January vol. 1, 411-412. It is summarized in English in Butler, I, 151.