Saturday, May 22, 2010

St. Rita of Cascia



Today is the optional memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, religious.

St. Rita was born at Rocca Porena in the Diocese of Spoleto in 1386 to Antonio and Amata Lotti, who were quite advanced in years. Rita’s birth was an answer to their prayers. The family was well-known for their charity, which merited them the surname of "Peacemakers of Jesus Christ".

Rita brought much joy to her parents. She was a cheerful, amiable, pious and devout child who spent much of her time in prayer. At the age of twelve, she desired to consecrate herself to God in the religious state. Pious though her parents were, they refused her pleas, but instead gave her away in marriage, at the age of eighteen, to an ill-tempered young man who was the town watchman. The couple had two sons, who inherited their father's temperament.

After 18 years of marriage, Rita’s husband was murdered by an old enemy. Her sons swore vengeance on their father’s killers, but through Rita's intercessory prayers, they forgave the offenders. Both of her sons died shortly afterwards.

Rita's former desire to consecrate herself to God in the religious life returned. On three separate occasions, she asked to be admitted to the Augustinian Nuns, but her request was refused each time, and she returned home to Rocca Porrena.

One night, as Rita was praying, she heard someone call her name and a knock on the door. Miraculously she was instantly transported to the Augustinian monastery. Astonished at the miracle, the Nuns received Rita, and accepted her as one of their own.

St. Rita lived a very austere life and performed many severe penances. After hearing a homily on the Passion of Christ she returned to her cell; kneeling before her crucifix, she prayed: "Let me, my Jesus share in Thy suffering, at least of one of Thy thorns". Her prayer was answered. Suddenly one of the thorns detached itself from Christ’s crown of thorns and fastened itself on her forehead so deeply that she could not remove it. The wound became worse, and gangrene set in. Because of the foul odor emanating from the wound, she was denied the companionship of the other Sisters for fifteen years.

As St. Rita was dying, she requested a relative to bring her a rose from her old home at Rocca Porrena. Although it was not the season for roses, the relative went and found a rose in full bloom. For this reason roses are blessed in the Saint's honor. She died May 22, 1456, and both in life and after death has worked many miracles.

After St. Rita's death, her face became beautifully radiant, while the odor from her wound was as fragrant as that of the roses she loved so much. The sweet odor spread through the convent and into the church, where it has continued ever since. Her body has remained incorrupt to this day; the face is beautiful and well preserved.

When St. Rita died her cell was aglow with heavenly light, while the great bell of the monastery rang of itself. A relative with a paralyzed arm, upon touching her sacred remains, was cured. A carpenter, who had known the Saint, offered to make the coffin. Immediately, he recovered the use of his long stiffened hands.St. Rita of Cascia was the first woman to be canonized in the Great Jubilee at the beginning of the 20th century, on May 24, 1900.

Patronage

Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. She is also the patron saint of abuse victims, difficult marriages, infertility, impossible causes, parenthood, sterility, and widows.

Quote:

The saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian women who "have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society" (Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, n. 27). Rita well interpreted the "feminine genius" by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.

~ Pope John Paul II

Prayer to Saint Rita

Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make of you: {mention your petition}. Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honor you and sing your praises forever. 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.

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