- Columba of Rieti
Columba of Rieti Virgin and Mystic Born 2 February 1467
Rieti, Umbria, Italy
Died 20 May 1501(aged 34)
Perugia, Umbria, Italy
Honored in Roman Catholic Church Beatified 25 February 1625 by Pope Urban VIII Feast 20 May Attributes Dominican tertiary receiving the Eucharist from a hand reaching down from heaven; Dominican tertiary with a dove, lily, and book, or a wreath of roses, cross, lily, and a rosary Patronage Against sorcery; against temptation; Perugia, Italy
Columba of Rieti (born Angelella Guardagnoli, 2 February 1467 – 20 May 1501) was an Italian female Dominican tertiary mystic. She was renowned for her spiritual advice, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the fantastic miracles attributed to her.
Columba was born with the name Angelella Guardagnoli, the daughter of a poor family in the Umbrian city of Rieti. Legend states that when she was born, angels gathered around her house, singing, and that during her Baptism, a dove flew down to the font. From then on, no one referred to her as Angelella, but as Columba (dove).
As a small girl, Columba learned to spin and sew repairing the clothes of the local Dominicans. She was educated by Dominican nuns. As a teenager, she prayed to discern her vocation in life and received a vision of Christ on a throne surrounded by saints. She took this as a sign to dedicate herself to God, and so she made a private vow of chastity, and spent her time in prayer. When it was revealed that her parents had arranged a marriage for her, she cut off her hair and sent it to her suitor as a way of letting him know where her real interest lay.
Columba became a Dominican tertiary at age 19. She was reputedly given to ecstasies, during one of which her spirit toured the Holy Land. She was a much sought after spiritual counselor. It is said that citizens from the city of Narni tried to kidnap her so she could be their miracle worker, but she escaped. The same townsfolk were to later fight for their retention of Blessed Lucia of Narni.
Upon a prompting that she should leave Rieti, she wandered away, having no conception of where she was going. Along the way she was arrested in Foligno as a vagrant. The bishop there ordered her to go to Perugia and found a Third Order convent, which she did, but only against the strong objections of the citizens of Foligno and Rieti who wanted her for their own towns. She worked with the poor extensively in Perugia, so much so that her sanctity reportedly incensed Lucrezia Borgia for years. At one point Borgia had even issued a decree accusing Columba of practicing magic. On the other hand, Pope Alexander VI, another Borgia, held her in high regard. He consulted her and received a severe admonition to repent.
Columba spent eleven years as prioress in Perugia, dying at the age of 34. Legend says that the moment of her death, her friend Blessed Osanna Andreasi saw Columba's soul as a "radiance rising to heaven." The whole city turned out for her funeral, which was paid for by the city fathers.
Notes and references
- Works cited
- Ashley, Benedict M, "Columba of Rieti", Blessed Osanna d'Andreasi and Other Renaissance Italian Dominican Women Mystics, http://www.domcentral.org/study/ashley/osanna.htm, retrieved June 18, 2010
- Jones, Terry, "Columba of Rieti", Patron Saints Index, http://saints.sqpn.com/blessed-columba-of-rieti/, retrieved June 18, 2010
- McNamara, Robert F (20 February 2007), "Bl. Columba of Rieti", Saints Alive (St. Thomas the Apostle Church), http://www.stthomasirondequoit.com/SaintsAlive/id606.htm, retrieved June 18, 2010
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