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PEÑAFORTE, RAYMUND DE:

Chaplain to Pope Alexander IV.; grand master of the Dominican order until 1240; confessor of James I. of Aragon; lived in Barcelona. His principal aim was to convert Jews and Mohammedans to Christianity, and for the furtherance of this aim he caused both Arabic and Hebrew to be taught in the higher schools conducted by Dominicans. He exercised great influence over King James as his confessor and succeeded in persuading him to order a public debate, concerning Judaism and Christianity, between Moses ben Naḥman, called "El Rab de España," Astruc de Porta, a rabbi in Gerona, and Fra Pablo, or Pablo Christiani, a baptized Jew of Montpellier who belonged to the Dominican order. In this debate, which took place in the royal palace at Barcelona. (July 20-24, 1263), in the presence of the king and of many of the higher clergy, Raymund de Peñaforte took an important part. He was at the head of the theologians present, and in agreement with the king gave the rabbi perfect freedom of speech. When Raymund observed to Moses ben Naḥman that he must not allow himself to blaspheme Christianity, Moses answered that he knew what the laws of propriety demanded. On the Sabbath following the close of the debate the king, together with many preaching friars and other clergy, visited the synagogue, where Raymund de Peñaforte delivered an address on the Trinity, which Moses ben Naḥman successfully refuted.

The debate was not without injurious effects. Raymund de Peñaforte obtained from the king not only permission for his protégé Pablo Christiani to continue his missionary journeys, but also the command that the Jews in all parts of his land, including children, old men, and women, should be compelled to listen to the sermons of Pablo and of all other Dominicans, and, within three months, to strike out from their books all that was contained in them against the Christian religion. The censory commission appointed therefor consisted of Arnoldo de Guerbo (Bishop of Barcelona), Raymund de Peñaforte, and the Dominicans Arnoldo de Legarra, Raymund Martin (author of "Pugio Fidei"), and Pedro de Janua (Genoa).

Bibliography:
  • Nachmanidis Disputatio, ed. Steinschneider, Berlin. 1860;
  • Diago, Annales del Reino de Valencia, p. 373;
  • Rios, Hist. i. 433 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 142 et seq.;
  • R. E. J. xv. 6 et seq.
S. M. K.
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