Feast of Blessed Rolando Rivi (April 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Rolando Rivi

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROLANDO RIVI (JANUARY 7, 1931-APRIL 13, 1945)

Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr

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I study to be a priest, and these vestments are the sign that I belong to Jesus.

–Blessed Rolando Rivi

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Rolando Rivi came from a devout farming family of San Valentino di Castallarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy.  He, born on January 7, 1931, discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  At the age of 11 he entered seminary with the intention of becoming a priest.  Our saint, as did the other seminarians, wore a cassock.

The Italian Fascist Party, which had come to power via elections a few years after World War I on a platform of making Italy great again, fell from power in 1943.  At the end of that revolution the new government established an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943.  Shortly thereafter Nazi forces occupied northern Italy and made former dictator Benito Mussolini their puppet ruler in the region.  Across northern Italy bands of partisans of various political stripes organized to support the Allied war effort.

The Roman Catholic Church found itself in a difficult position.  Since it had collaborated with the Fascist government, certain partisans (notably the Socialists and the Communists in the area of San Valentino) targeted priests for assassination.  On the other hand, Nazi forces occupied Rivi’s seminary in June 1944, thereby effectively closing that institution.  (Nazis were also fascists, by the way.)  The church was stuck between fascists and anti-fascists.

In that difficult context our saint continued his studies at home and insisted on wearing a cassock.  His parents, concerned for his safety, suggested that he wear other garb, but he refused.  That refusal led to Rivi’s martyrdom.  On April 10, 1945, after serving Mass at the parish (whose priest had moved on for safety’s sake, after an attack by partisans), Rivi headed for woods, where he meant to study.  He never returned home.  Partisans kidnapped and tortured him.  On April 13 they forced our saint to kneel at the edge of his grave.  As he prayed, partisans shot him in the head and the heart.  He was 14 years old.

This murder was politically sensitive for a long time.  The murderers were, after all, enemies of the Nazis and the Italian Fascists, as well as allies of the Allies.  On the other hand, they also killed a young man for no reason other than his faith.

Pope Francis declared Rivi a Venerable on March 27, 2013, and a Blessed on October 5 later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Rolando Rivi

triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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