St. Rita of Cascia

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St. Rita of Cascia  

Widow (ca. 1377–1457)  

St. Rita was born to a peasant family in Umbria, Italy. Though she wished to become a nun, she acceded to her parents’ plan for her marriage. It was an unfortunate arrangement. Her husband was abusive and unfaithful, and though there is some evidence that she was eventually able to temper his behavior, he eventually died as the result of a vendetta. Soon after, her two sons also fell ill and died. Thus, Rita was at last free to pursue her original vocation. She was twice turned away from the Augustinian convent of her choice because she was not a virgin. In the end, however, they relented, and in 1413 she took the veil.  

Among her sisters, Rita stood out for her extraordinary spirit of obedience. In a test, her superior ordered her to water and care for a dead vine in the garden. Faithfully she carried out her assignment each day. (St. Rita is widely invoked as a patron of hopeless causes.) One day, while meditating on the passion of Christ, Rita had the sensation that a thorn from Christ’s crown was pressing into her forehead. This wound lasted for many years and forced her, increasingly, to adopt a reclusive life.  

She died on May 22, 1457. Various miracles were credited to her intercession, and she was canonized in 1900.  

“Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen.” —Prayer to St. Rita 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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