While not considered one of the major saints of our faith, Saint Rita of Cascia is certainly one of the most inspirational. Most of her life she was living through hardship, but she never lost faith in God, and never turned her back on Him. She always knew God would be there to help her get through anything, no matter what.
Rita was born in 1831 to a peasant home in Roccaporena, Italy, near Cascia, to a deeply religious family. Shortly after her baptism, her family noticed hundreds of bees flying around her while she was sleeping. They went in and out of her mouth, but didn't harm her at all. Her family didn't get scared, as they watched in both faith and amazement.
At the age of just twelve, Rita was forced to marry Paolo Mancini. A horrible and abusive man, Rita begged her parents to let her join the convent instead of marrying Paolo. They made her marry Paolo because he was very wealthy. They had two sons together. Rita tried to raise her sons with catholic values, but they were very disrespectful, much like their father. Rita wept and prayed for her sons and husband quite often. Her husband eventually realized what a horrible man he was. He begged Rita to forgive him for making her suffer for so many years, and she did. Soon after this, while coming home from work, Paolo was ambushed and killed for his political beliefs. Rita's sons, Giangiacomo Antonio and Paolo Maria, swore they would kill whoever killed their father. Rita actually prayed that her sons would die rather than commit murder. A year later her sons apparently grew very ill and died.
After the death of her husband and sons, Rita tried to join the Augustinian convent of Cascia. Sadly she was denied entrance to the convent because the sisters heard about the murder
of Rita's husband, and were afraid that having Rita in the convent might bring violence there. Rita promised that if she were allowed, her presence would bring only peace. There was also another problem, the convent only allowed virgins, and they knew Rita had two sons. She somehow convinced them to look past the rule, and she was granted access in1413, receiving the habit of the order.
Â After being a nun for twenty five years, she still felt like she hasn't done enough for the Lord. One day at the convent, while looking at a crucifixion of Jesus, she said, "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Savior". Suddenly, a thorn from the crucifixion fell off the crown of Jesus and was deeply imbedded into Rita's forehead. This wound would never heal and caused her great pain for the rest of her life.
Shortly before her death, when Rita was sick and bedridden, her cousin came to visit her. She asked Rita if she wanted anything from home, and Rita requested a single rose and a fig. Her cousin doubted that she would be able to find a rose and let alone a fig, because they were out of season. However, when her cousin went home, she looked in the garden and sure enough, there was a single rose and a fully ripened, edible fig.
On May 22, 1457, Rita died of a wasting disease. She is forever known as the 'Saint of Impossible Causes'.
Saint Rita was canonized on May 24, 1900, by Pope Urban VIII in Rome, Italy. Saint Rita continues to inspire and affect people's lives still today. One example of this is by her wanting to suffer like Christ did. Her suffering makes people realize that we should not be as selfish.
In the early 1900's, the city of Philadelphia decided to make Saint Rita as the patron saint of a new parish. This shrine brought thousands of Italian Immigrants to America. Because Saint Rita was a very popular saint in Italy, the shrine attracted Italians to America. Without the shrine, America's Italian population would be far less.
Saint Rita is also responsible for a 'trend' that people do when they can't sell their house. When people have been trying to sell their house for a very long time and have had no luck, they turn to Saint Rita. They don't just pray to her, they bury a statue of her in their front yard! Surprisingly, most of the time it works, the house actually gets sold. They don't call her the 'Saint of Impossible Causes' for nothing.
Saint Rita had to deal with horrible abuse, as before mentioned. She can give many abused people hope that the abuse will soon stop, and things will get better. Also, she could be an example for widowed women who want to become nuns, but don't believe they can because they were married. She may have lived a hard life, but she never lost faith in God. Saint Rita has helped so many people get through so many hard things, whether it was abuse, sickness, pain, or anything that seems impossible. She was a very strong woman, and was willing to do anything for God.
Vann Joseph, ed: Lives of Saints.
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