church of Saint Dominic
Colomba of Rieti
A brief description.
Reate was originally a major site of the Sabine nation. After the Roman conquest, carried out by Manius Curius Dentatus in late Third century BC, the village became a strategic point in the early italic road network, dominating the "salt" track (Via Salaria) that joined Roma to the Adriatic Sea across the Appennine mountains.
Through a deep cut in the limestone at the northern edge of the valley, Curius Dentatus made the water of the lake flow away in the Nera river, then the wide area once occupied by the lake turned into a fertile plain, and the land was split by surveyors into square allotments, in the shape of a regular grid.
The town itself was re-founded on the basis of orthogonal axes, and was fortified with strong walls all around; a stone bridge was laid across the Velino river, and a great viaduct was built to lead people and carts from the Salaria road up to the southern door of the town.
Roman Reate deserved several quotations in the Latin literature thanks to its flourishing soil, its valued asses, and some weird peculiarity of the surroundings, as wandering islands, roaming sources and hollow-subsurfaced fields. Cicero tells about litigation between Reate and Interamna for the lake drainage, and refers to the country houses (villae) that his friend Q. Axius owned in the plain.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rieti suffered destruction by barbarians people, but was always an important gastaldate during the Lombard domination, as part of the Duchy of Spoleto. Under the Franks, it was capital of county. In the 9th and 10th centuries, it was sacked by the Saracens, and, in 1149, by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily.
The city was rebuilt with the help of the Roman commune, and from 1198 was also a free commune, of Guelph orientation, with a podestà of its own.
As a favourite Papal seat, Rieti was the place of important historical events: Constance of Hauteville married here by proxy Emperor Henry VI (1185); in the cathedral, in 1289, Charles I of Anjou was crowned King of Apulia, Sicily and Jerusalem by Pope Nicholas I.
Pope Gregory IX celebrated here the canonization of St. Dominic (1234).
Late Middle Ages and modern era
After the Papal seat had been moved to Avignon, Rieti was conquered by the King of Naples, while inner struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines began. In 1354 it was captured back by Cardinal Albornoz, and later was a feudal seignory of the Alfani family within the Papal States. In the following century a program of drying of the neighbouring plain was carried on, but this led to quarrels with the city of Terni.
Rieti was province capital of the Papal States from 1816 to 1860. After the unification of Italy, it was initially part of Abruzzi, being annexed to the Lazio in 1923. It became the provincial capital on January 2, 1923.
Blessed Colomba of Rieti, O.P.
The blessed Dominican sister Colomba (or Columba) of Rieti was born on 2 February 1467, as Angelella Guardagnoli.
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. Many seculars, men as well as women, shared this devotion, among theseErcole I, Duke of Ferrara, who had a deep admiration for Colomba and for some other Dominican religious, her contemtpraries, the most notable of whom were 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.
For sister Lucy of Narni Ercole's veneration 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 her a convent and where she died after many troubles.
But 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, and in the course of time built her the convent of St. Catherine, in which she assembled all the Third Order Dominicanesses, who wanted her as superior in spite of her youth. In 1494, when a terrible plague was raging in Perugia, she 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 Roma, whence a commission was sent to examine her life. She was treated for some time as an imposter, 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 also 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 she was consulted, by authorities who were examining the matter of the stigmata of Blessed Lucy of Narni, O.P. (1476-1544, beatified in 1720) and spoke warmly in favour of their being genuine, and of her admiration for Blessed Lucy's holiness. Her relics are still venerated at Perugia.
Sister Colomba died on 20 May, 1501 at Perguia, 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
She was beatified by Pope Urban VIII on 25 February 1625.
The restoration of the church of Saint Dominic in Rieti
The church of Saint Dominic was fallen into disrepair. The free San Domenico Committee to the restoration of the church started in March 1985. The restoration was completed on 8 August 1995, with many thanks to the Honorary Committe President, S.E. Tarcisio Bertone, to the Rieti's Bishop Delio Lucarelli, to Aquila's Bishop mons. Giuseppe Molinari, to mons. Antonio Conte, to mons. Don Luigi Bardotti, a reference point of the whole operation. Many thanks, too, to the Committee persons: Edoardo Antonicoli, Claudio Cecere, Matilde Fallerini, Giuseppe Li Puma, Alessandro Nisio, Pierluigi Rosati, Andrea Ruggeri, Maurizio Simeoni, Enzo Tarani e Ileana Tozzi.
Source: Restoration of the San Domenico.
Italy 1995. Postmark Rieti 08.08.1995.
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