About our Patroness, St. Rita of Cascia
"SAINT OF THE IMPOSSIBLE"
St. Rita was born Rita Lotti in 1381 in the hamlet of Roccaporena, near Cascia in the province of Umbria, Italy. She was the only child of Antonio and Amata Lotti, and they knew she was a special gift from God. From her earliest years, Rita showed extraordinary piety and love of prayer.
Her parents decreed that she should marry. Her husband proved to be brutal and violent, and his temper was the terror of the neighborhood. With a breaking heart, she watched her two sons fall more and more under their father's evil influence. She prayed for them without ceasing.
Eventually her husband's conscience was touched. He begged forgiveness for all the suffering he had caused her. Shortly afterwards he was carried home dead, covered with wounds. Her two sons vowed to avenge their father's death, but Rita prayed that they might die rather than commit murder.
Before they could carry out their plan for revenge, the sons contracted an illness that proved fatal. Their mother nursed them and, before they died, they asked for forgiveness.
With her husband and sons all dead, Rita entered the convent in 1413. From childhood she had a special devotion to the suffering of our Lord. In 1441, when she heard an eloquent sermon regarding Christ's crown of thorns, a strange reaction seemed to occur as she knelt in prayer and asked God to share with her at least some of His pain. Slowly, one of the thorns from the crucifix was loosened, and implanted itself so deeply into Rita's forehead that she fainted. This wound remained open and became so offensive that she had to be secluded from the others in the convent.
The wound healed for a season, enabling Rita to accompany her sisters on a pilgrimage to Rome during the year of the jubilee in 1450. But the wound was renewed after her return and remained with her until her death.
Shortly before she died, Rita asked one of her female relatives to bring her back a rose from the garden of her former home. It was midwinter, not a season when roses bloom in central Italy. Yet the cousin found a single rose in the garden and brought it back to Rita, who kissed it and offered it to the Mother Superior. A simple but particularly moving miracle: Rita, from her deathbed, remembered the beauty of life and all living things. To this day roses are associated with her.
Rita died on May 22, 1457. Her body was never buried. So many people came to look upon the gentle face of the “Peacemaker of Cascia” that her burial had to be delayed. It became clear that something exceptional was occurring as her body seemed to be free from nature’s usual course. It is still preserved today, now in a glass-enclosed coffin, in the basilica of Cascia.
On May 24, 1900, Pope Leo XIII canonized the humble mountain woman - St. Rita of Cascia - whom the world has come to love and venerate as "The Saint of the Impossible."
The Feast of St. Rita is celebrated each year on May 22.
Visit the following websites for more information about St. Rita of Cascia:
The National Shrine of St. Rita, in Philadelphia