In his Angelus address Sunday, Pope Francis mentioned a Italian young man who has been beatified this weekend, holding him up as a source of inspiration, a model for youth and the Christian life. Rolando Rivi was martyred in 1945 at 14. A seminarian, he refused to take off his cassock, a sign of his identity as one called to the priesthood. “He knew where he had to go… knew the love of Jesus in his heart, and gave his life for Him,” Pope Francis said of him.
I look at that blessed boy’s face and think of the courage it takes young people to be countercultural today. They must be close to him.
Blessed Rolando died repeating the words “I belong to Jesus.”
On April 10, 1945, he played the organ during the Mass celebrated by Fr. Marzocchini in the parish. At the end of the Mass, wearing his cassock, he packed up his things and crossed the forest that separated him from his home, which he never reached. After a desperate search for three days, Rolando’s father and Fr. Camellini found his body filled with signs of torture and martyrdom. Rolando had suffered three days of torture and humiliation, suffering insults against God, Christ, and the Church. The Communist partisans began their torment against the young seminarian by removing his cassock and beating him hard with a belt. After torturing him, the Communist partisans took him through the trees, leaving a trail of blood behind him. His captors let him pray and he prayed for his parents and for his murderers. Afterwards, the Communists fired twice, hitting him in the head and near the heart. The murderers then left him half-buried and took his cassock with them, tying it in knots and using it as a soccer ball.
Pope Francis also reflected on the Gospel of St. Luke (17:5-10) today, inviting the crowd to repeat, again and again: “Lord, increase our faith!”
From Vatican Radio:
He spoke of those who are simple and humble, or who are experiencing difficulties in their lives, who nonetheless are able to do great things, and maintain a certain serenity, because of their faith.Pope Francis recalled how the month of October is dedicated in a particular way to missionaries, especially those who proclaim the Gospel despite great obstacles. He said, however, that each and every one of us, “in our own lives, every day, can give witness to Christ, with the strength of God, the strength of faith.”
This strength is attained through prayer. “Prayer is the breath of faith,” the Pope said. In a relationship where there is trust and love, he continued, there needs to be dialogue. “Prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God.”
He also urged that we pray the Rosary this month, calling it “a school of prayer, and “a school of faith.”
Increase our faith!
Blessed Rolando Rivi, pray for us. And pray in a special way for all men called to the priesthood, that will be faithful on their journey to seeing God’s face in Heaven.