Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blessed Rolando Rivi

Bl. Rolando Rivi

The young seminarian martyr.

After reading about the young saint, I suddenly was granted a deeper appreciation of the traditional garb of priests, the cassock and saturno.. In 1944 after the German invasion of Italy and seminaries were closed, the young seminarian Rolando Maria Rivi returned home, yet continued to wear his cassock, insisting "I am studying to be a priest and the cassock is the sign that I belong to Jesus.” Despite anticlerical sentiment in his area, Rolando wore the outward sign that he was still a seminarian and candidate for the priesthood. [Bl. Rolando's example reminded me of another young martyr, Bl. Isidore Bakanja, the Africa Scapular martyr - when his persecutors ordered him to remove his scapular, Isidore refused and was severely flogged.]  Anyway - now I have a deeper respect for priests and seminarians who choose to wear the cassock.  It is a wonderful witness.  (My sincere apologies to Fr. Longenecker too.)

The martyrdom of Blessed Rolando.
On April 10, 1945, Rolando was taken by a group of Communist insurgents, who forced him to go with them into the woods.   
Friday, April 13, 1945, after three days of torture and humiliation, the insurgents brought him to a forest in the village of Piane di Monchio, where there was already a grave dug. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon. They hurled him to the ground and then forced him to kneel on the edge of the grave. Before they killed him, Rolando asked for – and was granted – a moment to pray for his parents. Even then, he reaffirmed his belonging to Christ. The Communist insurgents then murdered him with two shots of the pistol.  He was fourteen years old. - Read more here. 
Blessed Rolando, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Art: I've been doing some sketches of Bl. Rolando, this is one study in pencil and crayon. 


  1. my great-uncle and another 30 or 40 seminarians were able to escape from Madrid in 1936 because one day, in the seminary they were given civilian clothes and an address where they got on a coach and drove to the frontier with France, they were disguised as a 'sports team' heading to the Olimpic games in Berlin. He was 17 years old . Many others were killed

    1. Your great-uncle was amongst saints! Thanks for that story.

    2. It is nice for me to have someone to tell this stories which were passed to me . This great-uncle lived till his 80th birthday, but his younger brother, who was in the republican army when this one escaped, was considered a traitor (because of all that story) and killed..the family never knew the details of how and is a big sad memory. He was definitely the Saint and martyr, my granny used to say like lots of innocents were killed when baby Jesus was persecuted by Herod, he was killed by his superiors and comrades for having a priest-brother.
      Maybe we will see him amongst saints one day

      I did not know that you have painted the picture, it's really nice.

  2. Beautiful artwork Terry.

    1. Really?

      Thanks very much Paul.

    2. Yes, I really think so. Especially like the poise in the face and the eyes.

  3. Thanks very much Paul - I respect your opinion. I regard you as a fine artist and always admire your work - which is why I'm so pleased by your critique.


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