Raymond was born in 1175 to a wealthy family (the Peñafort) who lived near Barcelona, Spain. He was known as a good student and by the age of twenty he was professor of philosophy. He taught in Barcelona for fifteen years and then went to Italy to study civil and canon law. He received the degree in 1216 and three years later returned to Spain. In 1222, Raymond entered the Dominican Order in Barcelona. He always lived with great humility and was known for his holiness. Raymond was a zealous preacher of the Gospel and a spiritual guide to Kings, Queens and even the Pope.
Raymond was also charged with the task of rearranging and codifying the canon laws of the Church, quite a task, since he had to rewrite and condense decrees that had been accumulating for centuries. Completed in 1234, the work remained the most authoritative compilation within the body of canon law until 1917, when a new code was published.
In 1238 Raymond was elected Superior General of the Dominican Order. He humbly obeyed the decision of his brothers, served them for two years, then resigned because of ill health. Although he was now an elderly man, Raymond had no intention of retiring. He continued preaching and teaching, seeking to draw all to Jesus Christ. Raymond died on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, in 1275. He was 100 years old. He was canonized in 1601 by Pope Clement VIII.