Saint Raymond was born in the village of Portell (today part of Sant Ramon), in the Diocese of Urgell. He was taken from the womb by a caesarean operation when his mother died in childbirth, hence his name non natus (not born).
He was born of noble but poor family, he showed early traits of piety and great talent. His father ordered him to tend a farm, but later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona, at the hands of the founder, St. Peter Nolasco.
He succeeded Peter as chief ransomer and went to Algeria to ransom slaves. Raymond remained as hostage for several slaves when his money ran out and was sentenced to be impaled when the governor learned that he had converted several Mohammedans. He escaped the death sentence because of the ransom he would bring, but was forced to run the gauntlet, and was at last sentenced to impalement. The hope of a greater sum of money as ransom caused the governor to commute the sentence into imprisonment.
To prevent him from preaching for Christ, his lips were pierced with a red-hot iron and closed with a padlock. After his arrival in Spain, in 1239, he was made a cardinal by Gregory IX. In the next year he was called to Rome by the pope, but came only as far as Cardona, about six miles from Barcelona, where he died.
His body was brought to the chapel of St. Nicholas near his old farm. In 1657 his name was placed in the Roman martyrology by Alexander VII. He is invoked by women in labour and by persons falsely accused. The appendix to the Roman ritual gives a formula for the blessing of water, in his honour, to be used by the sick, and another of candles.