Colomba de Rieti
2 February 1467 - 20 May 1501
The blessed Dominican sister Colomba (or Columba de Rieti) was
born as Angelella Guardagnoli in Rieti on February 1467.
Her celebrity is based -- as it was even in her lifetime -- mainly on two things: the highly miraculous nature of her career from its very beginning, and her intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She was one among a number of saintly Dominican women who seem to have been expressly raised up by God in protest against, and as a sharp contrast to the irreligion and immorality prevalent in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
These women had an intense devotion for Saint Catherine of Siena, and made it their aim to imitate her as nearly as possible. Ercole I, Duke of Ferrara, and many seculars had a deep admiration for Colomba and some other Dominican religious, so for the Blessed Osanna of Mantua (17.01.1449-1505), beatified in 1694, and Blessed Lucy of Narni (1476-1544), beatified in 1720. Notices about their lives in Dorcy, O.P., Mary Jean: St. Dominic’s Family. Dominicana publications, Washington, D.C. 2nd printing 1983.
Ercole's veneration for sister Lucy of Narni was so great that he
never rested until he had got her to come with some of her nuns to live in
Ferrara, where he built a monastery and where she died after many troubles.
However, Colomba was not destined to remain in Rieti. In 1488, she left home and
went to Perugia, where the inhabitants received her as a saint. They built for
her and her sisters the monastery of Saint Catherine. The sisters elected her as
superior in spite of her youth.
In 1494, a terrible plague raged in Perugia, and Colomba offered herself as victim for the city. The plague was stayed, but Colomba herself was struck down by the scourge. She recovered only to save her sanctity severely tried by widely spread calumnies, which reached Rome, whence a commission was sent to examine her life. She was treated for some time as an impostor, and deposed from her office of prioress; but finally her innocence triumphed.
In 1495, Alexander VI, having heard of Colomba's holiness and miracles from his son the Cardinal Caesar Borgia, who had been living in Perugia, went himself to the city and saw her. She is said to have gone into ecstasy at his feet, and to have boldly told him of all personal sins. The Pope was fully satisfied of her great sanctity, and set the seal of approval on her mode of life.
In the year of 1499, the authorities who were examining the matter of the stigmata of Blessed Lucy of Narni, O.P. (1476-1544, beatified in 1720) consulted her. She spoke warmly in favour of sister Lucy and of her admiration for her holiness. After Lucy’s dead, her relics are still venerated at Perugia.
Sister Colomba died on 20 May, 1501 at Perugia, of natural causes; at the moment of her death, her friend, Blessed Osanna of Mantua, saw Colomba's soul as a radiance rising to heaven; the whole city turned out for her funeral, which was paid for by the city fathers. Pope Urban VIII beatified her on 25 February 1625.
The Dominican sister Colomba was born in Forli on 2 February
She had many connections with the Dominicans of the priory of Saint Dominic.
Italy 1995. Rieti postmark 8.8.1995.
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