From infancy Columba led a supernatural life. She strewed her little bed with thorns, and from an old sieve plaited a hair-shirt. At ten she made a vow of virginity, and when her parents tried to change her resolve, and chose a husband for her, she proved her determination by cutting off her hair and casting it at their feet. The Holy Eucharist formed her one desire and almost her sole nourishment. Hunger, thirst, sleep, and the other needs of nature, not only never tormented her, but she lived unconscious of them. At nineteen she entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic, though continuing to dwell in her father’s house. Being warned in sleep to leave Rieti, she one night found herself, how she knew not, travelling on an unknown road. She finally stopped at Perugia, in which she recognized the city of her dream. The inhabitants received her as a Saint, and built for her the convent of Saint Catherine in which she gathered under one roof all the Tertiary nuns. When a great plague was raging, she offered herself as a victim, and the plague was stayed, but Columba was struck down by the scourge. She only recovered to find herself assailed by the vilest calumnies, and treated as an impostor. Alexander VI ordered an inquiry. Nor was it till after many trials, and being deposed from her office of prioress, that her innocence was proved. She died in 1501, at the age of thirty-three.
Do not say, “I am not worthy to go often to Communion;” but endure everything to make yourself more worthy. This is the lesson of Blessed Columba’s life.
“Siti sitiri Deus – God thirsts to be thirsted for. – Saint Gregory Nyssen
If the Saint’s Communion was delayed by but one hour she fainted from exhaustion, and her life seemed in danger. Her confessor, fearing some delusion, asked her how she was able to live on the Blessed Sacrament alone. “When I receive this heavenly food,” she replied, “I feel so satisfied in soul and body that all desire for earthly food vanishes, and I have a horror of it. I hope that before this year is over God will give you a sign which will remove your doubts.” On Christmas-day, as this priest finished his first Mass, he felt an unknown refreshment of soul. When he had said his third Mass this heavenly love had reached such a height that he felt it impossible to touch food, and so remained fasting through the day. This was revealed to Columba, who said, “I rejoice, father, that you have received my heavenly food, and now know by experience how I can be satisfied by the Bread of angels only.”
As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God! – Psalm 41:1
- Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Blessed Columba of Rieti”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 February 2015. Web. 26 March 2017. <>