Saint Rita was born in 1381 in Rocca Porena near Cascia. Her elderly parents were pious peasants, having patiently begged the Lord to give them a child, they were heard, and from birth the child received special protection from the Lord, as witnessed by the miracle of the bees.
The young Rita received a great love for Christ and a very special devotion to his Passion from her mother. She was very pious and divided her time between service to her elderly parents and prayer. She performed housework and agricultural work with kindness. Two places are dear to her: a small room she arranged in an oratory, and Mount Scoglio, where she liked to meditate. Concerned about the future of their only daughter, the parents decided to marry her off. Although she had long felt in her heart the desire to enter the convent, Rita accepted so as not to disappoint her parents. She married Paolo Mancini at the age of 14. Unfortunately, this violent and angry man was not the ideal husband for Rita, who would suffer a lot from his rage.
Full of courage and goodwill, she devoted herself to her new task as wife and mother. Rita would have two sons and seek to provide them with a good Christian education, especially by taking them with her to do charity. In addition to suffering everything in silence, the young wife instituted fasts and sacrifices for the conversion of her husband. Grace finally arrived, and Paolo threw himself at his wife's feet, asking for forgiveness. From then on, family life was transformed and happiness seemed to have settled in the house.
Unfortunately, soon after his conversion, Paolo Mancini was brutally murdered by former low-life friends. His two sons, who had become young men, took the path of revenge and, in their turn, entered a life full of violence. Heroic in her motherly love, Rita still would have preferred to see her sons dead than guilty of a mortal sin. In fact, they died one after the other of illness, but both of them with their souls in peace. Rita, in her pain, addresses her crucifix: “Lord, here I am alone in the world, what do you want from me now”. The answer was clear, it reverberated in her: to enter the Augustinian monastery of Cascia.
Rita applied three times for admission to the convent, which was refused because of her situation and age. Yet, miraculously transported by three saints to the inside of the convent, she was finally accepted. Sister Rita immediately proved to be particularly holy. She devoted herself to all services, especially to the poor, whom she had always helped. Deeply inhabited by the Passion of Christ, she immersed herself in it during her meditations. From the crucifix then came a thorn from the crown of thorns that would sink into her forehead. Sister Rita would keep this painful wound for the rest of her life. This purulent and malodorous wound meant that she was secluded away in an isolated room.
Sister Rita received many visits, was given prayer intentions. She increased her penances and miracles became frequent. The news spread and Sister Rita became known. She then fell ill and would remain bedridden for the four years leading up to her death. Increasingly weak, she received a visit from Jesus and the Virgin Mary, who announced her death three days later. Indeed, on May 22, 1457, Rita flew to Heaven leaving behind a host of graces.
Though her holiness was immediately recognized by all, the Catholic Church would wait nearly five centuries to proclaim her a saint in 1900. Her body is still intact in the Basilica of Cascia.
Saint Rita of Cascia is known as the saint of desperate causes because her intercession has always proved very effective. Her worship has gradually spread throughout Italy and all over the world.
Christians from all walks of life turn to her after exhausting earthly resources and finding no solution to their suffering and distress.
In reality, she is not noticed by extraordinary actions, but by her humble and obedient holiness. All her life, Saint Rita endeavored to please the Lord in every way by accepting trials and carrying out the will of the Father in every situation. Starting from her youth, she made many sacrifices and penances that brought her ever closer to God. It was by this path that she was able to bring her prayers to Heaven more and more and to receive in return a multitude of grace.
She who knew all the states of life intercedes for all kinds of difficulties. She prays for those who desire a child, for wives, for couples in hardship, for mothers whose children are moving in the wrong direction, for nuns, for the sick, whom she served all her life, and for lost causes. In all these situations, her intercession is so powerful and effective that she has become "the patron of impossible cases."
Rita, accompanied by other nuns, made a great pilgrimage to Rome on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of 1450. Crossing Italy on foot under difficult conditions, she became the patron saint of travelers.
While working in the fields, her parents placed little Rita in a basket at the foot of a tree, where she was soon surrounded by bees. One of the peasants, after injuring his hand, returned to the baby, which he discovered covered with bees, even entering her mouth. Yet to the amazement of all, the bees did no harm to her, moreover, looking at his hand, the farmer saw that he was perfectly healed. When Rita became a nun, similar bees came to settle in the convent.
Sister Rita always obeyed the Mother Superior. To test her, the Mother even asked her to water a dried vine every day. Despite the mockery, Rita took this job very seriously. After a year the miracle occurred: the dead branch turned green again, grew, and produced an excellent grape. This branch still lives in the convent of Cascia and has been producing grapes of exceptional quality for more than five hundred years.
Sister Rita asked a visitor to bring her a rose from her garden. She went away, thinking distractedly because winter was in full swing. Having forgotten the patient's request, she passes in front of her old garden and to her great surprise, she saw a beautiful rose. This happened again with two figs that were ripe in the middle of winter.
Immediately after Saint Rita's death, miracles started to occur. Many people saw her rise to glory, and the monastery bell started to ring without anyone touching it. The wound on her forehead scarred, leaving only a beautiful trace, her body gave off a fragrance, and her face appeared much more beautiful than usual. A sister leaned down to kiss her and immediately shouted about a miracle, as her paralyzed arm had just regained its mobility.
A crowd from all over the region wanted to venerate the body of the one who was already known as “the saint of Rocca Porena,” so a special open coffin was prepared to deposit the body, which remained beautiful, supple and fragrant. A number of miracles occurred near the one whose intercession was already so powerful on Earth.
Discover the many prayers to Saint Rita to ask her intercession:
There are many devotions to Saint Rita: the rosary, litany, and medal. We can ask for the intercession of Saint Rita for a very difficult or desperate cause thanks to this novena. In addition, many shrines are dedicated to Saint Rita.