Thursday, June 30, 2011
June 30 -- Feast of Blessed Raymond Lull
Also known as Doctor Illuminatus, Raymond was a troubadour from the court of King James of Aragon who became a Franciscan tertiary. An accomplished student in many disciplines, he distinguished himself in math, chemistry (alchemy, anyway), political science, botany, computation, and languages. He became an expert in Arabic culture and campaigned heavily throughout southern Europe for funds to send missionaries to North Africa. He himself was thrown out of Tunis three times for preaching Christianity. Given the fate of others, I'd say that his survival alone is miracle enough to get him fully canonized, but so far he's just beatified.
His family suffered neglect after a vision of Christ on the Cross converted him to religious zeal. Prior to that, he was seneschal to the Court of James II, which is a pretty good living, but following that, he split his time between study and prayer. The his writings were more intent on saving souls that entertaining crowds, so they probably didn't make the money his old stuff did. And since there were no royalties (when you're working for royalty -- HA!), his wife and kids petitioned for an estate administrator to make sure they had food and clothes.
He wrote Blanquerna, the first novel in Catalan, perhaps the first novel in all Europe. He also experimented with alchemy, hoping to turn lead to gold so that he could finance more missionary work. Some say he did so, but you can always find someone to say just about anything. His followers (Lullists) split after his death; some stayed with the Church, focusing on missionary work, while others focused on the lead-to-gold process.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM