Raymund Lull was a martyred missionary to Muslims. Born into a distinguished family on the island of Majorca, Spain, Lull spent his youth as a page, tutor, poet and troubadour in the Court of Aragon. Although married and father to two children, he lived a dissolute life until his dramatic conversion in 1257. The facts of his life are often interlaced with legend, but he is reported to have forsaken family and wealth to become a mendicant and scholar. His life goal was to preach the Christian faith and write books to convert unbelievers, persuade princes and popes to establish colleges for the training of missionaries to the Muslims, and give his life as a martyr. For nearly a decade he prepared himself for his work by studying Arabic, engaging Muslim and Jewish scholars in debate, and writing books. He convinced Prince James (later King James II) to establish a monastery, Miramar, in 1276 for would-be missionaries to Muslims. He traveled widely, urging other rulers and church leaders to do the same; and he preached, lectured, debated, and continued to write books in Latin and in Arabic. He is said to have considered becoming a Franciscan but it is uncertain if he ever took Holy Orders.
He made at least four missionary journeys, three to North Africa and one as far as Cyprus, from which he hoped to go on to Syria. The first, in 1291, was to Tunis, where he challenged the Muslim literati and attacked directly the Islamic view of God. Imprisoned, he barely escaped death. In 1301 he made an unsuccessful attempt to enter Syria, but did evidently contact some leaders of the Eastern branches of Christianity and tried to convince them to submit to the authority of Rome. His third mission was to Bugie, a North African town 100 miles east of Algiers. Because of his preaching, he was imprisoned for six months and then deported. At 80 years of age, Lull journeyed again to Tunis and apparently gained his first Muslim converts. Then, in 1314 and 1315, for reasons not entirely clear, he returned to Bugie and, according to tradition, was stoned to death, a martyr.
Lull is significant for his extensive writings designed to persuade believers and non-Christians, especially Muslims, of the truth of the Christian faith; for the college established on Majorca for training missionaries in Arabic language and philosophy; and for his determined missionary efforts in the Muslim world. A mystic, he is often thought of as having opposed the Crusades, but the evidence is mixed. No complete listing of his writings was made, but a partial catalog consists of more than 280 titles.
Raymond Lull, Obres (1905-1952). E. Allison Peers, Ramón Lull: A Biography (1929) and Fool of Love: The Life of Ramón Lull (1946); Samuel M. Zwemer, Raymond Lull, First Missionary to the Moslems (1902; informative, but not always reliable in details).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.