St. Rita, Our Patron
Born in 1382 near the town of Cascia in the province of Umbria, Italy, Rita had a happy childhood as the only offspring of an elderly, well-to-do couple known in the area as "The Lord's Peacemakers." Though drawn to the religious life, Rita gave up her dream of entering a convent and, to please her parents, married.
Rita's husband provided security and protection, but he did not join his wife with a strong spiritual life. After eighteen years of praying for her husband to repent and reform his life, Rita's prayers were answered. However, shortly after his change of heart, her husband was murdered. Rivalry between families and the vendetta code demanded that Rita's two sons avenge their father's death -- an expectation Rita pleaded with her sons to avoid. Before taking their revenge, however, Rita's sons died suddenly, another tragedy for the now-childless widow to endure.
Some time afterward, Rita prayerfully decided to join the Order of St. Augustine nuns in the town of Cascia, only to be rebuffed by the Mother Superior, who refused to accept Rita due to ongoing family tensions that could even be felt in the convent. Persistent in her desire, Rita mediated peace between the two families, allowing her to remove any obstacle from entrance into the convent.
During her forty-four years of convent life, Rita was especially devoted to the mysteries of the cross and Christ's sufferings. She received a mysterious would on her forehead, said to be inflicted by a thorn from Christ's crown of thorns.
She was especially fond of roses, the flower associated particularly with her. There is a legend that a colony of white bees took up habitation in her convent cell and there to this day. Rita was reputed to have the scent of sanctity at her death in 1457 at the age of 75, with her body being restored to a youthful state. Several miraculous cures were attributed to her. She is highly regarded as a model wife, mother, widow, and nun.
Rita of Cascia was beatified in 1625 and was canonized in May of 1900. Her feast day is May 22nd.