Background of Italy during World War II:
A martyr for the faith, Blessed Rolando Rivi was killed in Italy during World War II. The partisans who fought the Germans and Axis in this part of Italy were, for the most part, committed communists. Their hatred of religion was one of their basic tenets. Thousands of people were killed in this region by communists during the war. Among them were over 100 priests & seminarians, who were accused of such crimes as collaboration with the fascist government, giving aid to fascist refugees or simply being priests or studying to become one. Such was the case of Rolando Rivi.
About Blessed Rolando Rivi:
Coming from a devout Catholic family, and influenced by his Father, Roberto, Rolando went to daily Mass, prayed when he awoke each day, and soon developed a desire to become a priest.
He read many accounts of missionaries, and was particularly fascinated by the example, very recent at that time, of Blessed Miguel Pro, a Mexican Jesuit shot in 1928 by order of an anti-Christian government. He hoped to leave for distant missions to evangelize those who had not yet heard of the Lord Jesus . In October 1942, at the age of eleven and a half, Rolando entered his diocese’s minor seminary in Marola. On this occasion, he donned the cassock, as was the custom of the day. Today we might be surprised at such a premature gesture. Putting on the cassock did not constitute a definitive commitment, which would be made later in complete freedom. But for a child as mature as Rolando, wearing the cassock already meant being consecrated to God forever.
In June 1944, Nazis troops occupied the seminary, and so all the seminarians were sent home. Rivi returned to his hometown of San Valentino, carrying his books with him to continue his studies there. When he returned home, he continued to wear his cassock. This choice was dangerous in an area where bands of partisans, very active, were controlled by Communists. Rolando was aware of the anti-religious violence that was intrinsic to Communism; he knew that the partisans were powerful in his area. Nevertheless, he would not consent totaking off his cassock, as his family advised him to do, and as other seminarians in the area had done. “I am not hurting anyone,” he said. “I do not see why I should take off my cassock, which is the sign of my consecration to Jesus.”
The boy exerted a decisive influence on the minor seminarians who had returned to San Valentino. He encouraged them to study Latin as he did, thanks to private lessons given by a schoolteacher. With his maturity, the boy gave the impression of being the leader of the Catholic youth in the town. He had no intention at all of yielding to intimidation. This would disappoint the young Catholics who, following his example, intended to stand up to the Communist contagion.
Rolando was kidnapped by the Communists and led on foot to Monchio, about 10 miles from San Valentino, to a farm that served as a hideout for a group of Communist partisans. Tortured for two and a half days, he was taken to what would be his grave. When he saw it, he asked, crying: “Allow me the time to say a prayer for my father and mother” . He kneeled beside the grave and one of the partisans…a political commissar, shot him. He died at the age of 14.
You can read his full biography here (there is an English option).
Cause for Sainthood:
On April 4, 2001, an English boy, James, was cured of incurable leukemia after a relic (hair and blood) from Rolando was placed under his pillow, along with a novena of prayers by the patient’s family and friends. This cure, which doctors have declared inexplicable, has been presented to the Holy See in support of Rolando’s beatification.
The beatification process opened under Pope Benedict XVI on September 30, 2005, after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the official “nihil obstat” (nothing against) to the cause and titled Rivi as a Servant of God, a martyr for the Faith.
In March, 2013 Pope Francis confirmed that Rolando Rivi was killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) and therefor the beatification was held on October 5, 2013.
About the Church of Saints Eleucadio & Valentino in Castellarano:
Rolando’s body had been buried in a local cemetery, but on April 15, 1945, his body was exhumed and on May 25, 1945, of that year his mortal remains were brought back to San Valentino, surrounded by a crowd of hundreds of young Catholics who had known the deceased.
On his tomb, his father had these words engraved: “Rest in light and peace, you who were extinguished by hatred and darkness.”was exhumed and placed inside the church of San Valentino di Castellarano. The tomb is inscribed: Io sono di Gesù “I belong to Jesus”, a phrase that Rolando Rivi repeated time and again.
Castellerano is about 50 miles west of Bologna, the nearest large city. There is no train service, so bus would be your best option. You can find bus schedules and fares here.
Address: Via Rontano, 7, 42014 Castellarano RE
About The Amici Di Rolando Rivi Committee:
The Comittee was established in 2004 at the Parish of San Valentino in Castellarano. The purpose of this non-profit association is to promote the Cause of Canonization of Blessed Rolando Rivi, so that the treasure of the testimony of faith given by his martyrdom may shine for us, for the Church and for the world.
Also members of the Committee are members of the Eccoresial Association Memores Domini who are in charge of the secretariat, the relics of Blessed Rolando Rivi and the reception of the pilgrims.
Information, visits, request for Relics:
Tel: +39 0536 854048 Cell: +39 338 2024466
Click here for the official website of the Commitee Rolando Rivi’s Friends