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St. Raymond of Fitero

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Feastday: March 15
Death: 1163

Cistercian abbot and founder of the Order of Calatrava, also called Ramon Sierra. Born in Aragon, Spain, he served as a canon at Tarazona Cathedral and then joined the Cistercians at Scala Dei Monastery in France. He was sent to Spain to establish and serve as abbot of the Fitero Abbey in Navarre, a post which brought him into the forefront of the struggle between Christian Spain and the Moors. Thus, when the Moors were on the verge of attacking the Toledo outpost of Calatrava in 1158, Raymond convinced King Sancho HI of Castile to aid his call for an army to march to the city's defense. Assisted by Diego Velasquez, a one time knight who was then a humble monk, Raymond enlisted the aid of the archbishop of Toledo and created a vast host of Christian soldiers. The Moors failed to attack, but Raymond suggested that the knights be formed into the military order of the Knights of Calatrava. The members accepted the Benedictine rule and soon distinguished themselves as one of the most ardent forces advancing the cause of the Reconquista. The cult of Raymond as a saint was approved in 1719. 


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