Saint of the Day – 18 August – Blessed Rinaldo of Concorezzo (c 1245 – 1321) Bishop of Vicenza from 1296 until his 1303 appointment as the Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia holding that until his death, Doctor of Canon Law, Papal envoy, Arbitrator and peace-maker. Rinaldo served as a close confidante to Pope Boniface VIII before the latter was elected as Pontiff and is known for attempting to secure the rehabilitation of the Knights Templar. Archbishop Rinaldo was also a close friend of Dante Alighieri.
Rinaldo was a son of the noble Da Concoregio family, he was born in Milan between 1240 and 1250. Nothing is known about his youth, we have first knowledge of him in Bologna at the University. In his adolescence he completed his studies in Bologna and began to teach Canon law in Lodi from October 1286. In May 1287, the Bishop of Lodi asked him for legal opinions, this makes us understand that he enjoyed a reputation as a jurist and in fact had the academic title of ‘Doctor’ in 1295. We presume that during this time he completed his theological studies and was Ordained.
In 1289 he entered the staff of the Vice Chancellor of the Roman Curia Cardinal Pietro Peregrosso and he became an heir of the Cardinal in the latter’s will after he died in 1295. Rinaldo became a private aide and later the Chaplain to Cardinal Benedetto Caetani who became Pope Boniface VIII in 1294.
On 13 October 1296 the Pope appointed him Bishop of Vicenza, a See which he reached in a stormy way because in the meantime, the Vicentines had elected another bishop. In the end, the Pope’s authority prevailed and Rinaldo received his Episcopal Consecration and was installed as Bishop.
In that period he had special diplomatic and arbitration posts in the disputes that stirred between France and England. He was appointed by King Charles of Valois (1270-1325), called by the Pope to Florence to act as Arbirtrator and as Papal Nuncio (1302) in Romagna, later becoming the spiritual and temporal rector of the Region.
And in this function he found himself involved in the known turbulence of the area in continuous guerrilla warfare, in Forlì his headquarters, he took to the streets to bring peace but was attacked and seriously wounded, miraculously healed from deep wounds and continued his mission but sadly, without success.
The death of Boniface VIII came as a slight blow to the Bishop though Pope Benedict XI appointed him on 19 November 1303 as the Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia and Rinaldo was installed in his new Archdiocese in October 1305.
He convoked a provincial council in 1307 and then resumed the old practice of visiting all parishes contained within the Archdiocese. He held a second in 1309 and another in 1311 all in Ravenna. He visited northern Italian cities in tumult to reconcile them with the empire’s monarch Henry VII. In 1314 he called the fourth council in Argenta in order to restore discipline to priests and liturgical matters. He called for the fifth and last in Bologna in 1317.
He attempted to defend and secure the rehabilitation of the Knights Templar at the Council of Ravenna. He was the architect of the acquittal of the Italian Templars in the Council of Ravenna, which was under investigation and threatened with the dissolution of the Order at the behest of Philip the Beautiful. Together with his suffragan Bishops. He condemned torture and terror as a means of obtaining confessions, not accepting them if extorted with these methods and in this he also opposed the will of Pope Clement V who wanted them to be dissolved.
Moreover, in the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) while dissolving the Order of the Templars by authority, Pope Clement V, together with the King of France, had to admit, that none of the accusations had been proven and Rinaldo who participated in the Council, had thus a total and complete confirmation to his right action.
He travelled a great deal due to the heavy assignments he received from both the Pope and the King of France. He travelled around the various Lombard cities to try to make peace on behalf of Henry VII, King of Germany.
In 1314, he convened the fourth provincial council in Argenta, with the aim of recovering the assets of the Church, restoring the discipline of the clergy, the faithful and worship. A fifth and last Provincial Council was held in Bologna in 1317.
With impressive works he restored the Cathedral of St Bear, increasing preaching in the vernacular. From 1314, now ill in health, he settled in the castle of Argenta and governed the Episcopal See of Ravenna through Vicars, gradually estranging himself from political action and limiting himself to the care of the Diocese.
He died in that castle on 18 August 1321 and was interred in the Ravenna Cathedral. He was exhumed in 1566 and found incorrupt with his long beard still intact.
The cult of Rinaldo has always been a constant tradition of the Ravenna Church – in a document of 1340 he was given the title of ‘blessed’; in 1413 the Franciscan Niccolò da Rimini wrote his ‘Acts and miracles’.
His relics are in Lodi, Concorezzo and Vicenza, places where he is also venerated. The official cult was granted to the Diocese of Ravenna on 15 January 1852. Pope Pius IX approved his Beatification on 18 August 1852.