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|Saint Rita of Cascia|
|Born||1381, Roccaporena, Perugia, Umbria, Italy|
|Died||May 22, 1457, Cascia, Perugia, Umbria, Italy|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||1627, Rome by Pope Urban VIII|
|Canonized||May 24, 1900, Rome by Pope Leo XIII|
|Attributes||forehead wound, rose, bees|
|Patronage||Lost and impossible causes, interline travel, sickness, wounds, marital problems, abuse, mothers,|
St. Rita was born at Roccaporena near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. She married at age 12 to Paolo Mancini. Her parents arranged her marriage, despite the fact that she repeatedly begged them to allow her to enter a convent. Mancini was a rich, quick-tempered, immoral man, who made many enemies in the region. St. Rita endured his insults, abuse, and infidelities for 18 years, and bore two sons with Mancini, Giangiacomo Antonio and Paolo Maria. Although she tried to raise them with Catholic values, her sons were unholy for most of their lives.
Toward the end of her husband's life, St. Rita helped convert him to live in a more pious manner. Although Mancini became more congenial, his allies betrayed him, and he was violently stabbed to death. Before his death, he repented to St. Rita and the Church, and she forgave him for his transgressions against her.
After Mancini's murder, her sons wished to exact revenge on their father's murderers. Knowing murder was wrong, she tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail. She, instead, prayed to God for Him to take away the lives of her sons instead of seeing them commit such a terrible sin. In religious history, God heard St. Rita's words and her sons died of natural causes (disease) a year later.
Entering the monastery
After the deaths of her husband and sons, St. Rita desired to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene at Cascia but was spurned for being a widow, as virginity was required for entry into the convent. However, she persisted in her cause and was given a condition before the convent could accept her; the difficult task of reconciling her family with her husband's murderers. She was able to resolve the conflicts between the families and, at the age of 36, was allowed to enter the monastery.
However, her actual entrance into the monastery has been described as a miracle. During the night, when the doors to the monastery were locked and the sisters were asleep, St. Rita was miraculously transported into the convent by her patron saints Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. When she was found inside the convent in the morning and the sisters learned of how she entered, they could not turn her away.
She remained at the monastery, living by the Augustinian Rule, until her death.
Beatification and canonization
St. Rita was beatified by Urban VIII in 1627, to whose private secretary Fausto Cardinal Poli, born less than ten miles (16 km) from her birthplace, much of the impetus behind her cult is due; she was canonized on May 24, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. Her feast day is the whole day on May 22.
The forehead wound
One day, while living at the convent Rita said, "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour". Suddenly, a thorn from a figure of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ fell from the crown of thorns and wounded Rita's forehead. As a result, depictions of St. Rita show a forehead wound to represent this event. The wound became a symbol on St Rita's forehead.
The rose and fig
One of the common versions of the story about the importance of the rose (and fig) is set before St. Rita's entry into the convent.
Another version is set near the end of her life, when St. Rita was bedridden in the convent. A cousin visited her and asked her if she desired anything from her old home. St. Rita responded by asking for a rose and a fig from the garden. It was January and her cousin did not expect to find anything due to the snowy weather. However, when her relative went to the house, a single blooming rose was found in the garden as well as a fully ripened and edible fig, and her cousin brought the rose and fig back to St. Rita at the convent. The rose bush is still alive and often in bloom today.
The rose is thought to represent God's love for Rita and Rita's ability to intercede on behalf of lost causes or impossible cases. Rita is often depicted holding roses or with roses nearby. On her feast day, churches and shrines of St. Rita provide roses to the congregation that are blessed by priests during Mass.
In the parish church of Laarne, near Ghent, there is a statue of Saint Rita in which several bees are featured. This depiction originates from the story of St. Rita's baptism as an infant. On the day after her baptism, her family noticed a swarm of white bees flying around her as she slept in her crib. However, the bees peacefully entered and exited her mouth without causing her any harm or injury. Instead of being alarmed for her safety, her family was mystified by this sight.
A large sanctuary of Saint Rita was built in the early 20th century in Cascia. The sanctuary and the house where she was born are among the most active pilgrimage sites of Umbria. Saint Rita is the patron saint of "impossible or lost causes." Her intercession is also sought by abused women.
Recently, St. Rita has been referred to as the patron saint of baseball, due to the several references made to her in the Walt Disney movie The Rookie, in which the chances of Dennis Quaid's character of playing professional baseball is considered a lost cause. This has sparked a small movement in Roman Catholic baseball circles of considering St. Rita the patron saint of the sport: in support of the connection religious medals have been printed with an image of St. Rita on one side and a batter on the other.
In the book "Miracle Ball" by Brian Biegel, the origin of Saint Rita as the patron saint of baseball is connected to the drilling of the Santa Rita #1 oil well in Big Lake, Texas, in 1921. It is claimed that the well was named by two Roman Catholic nuns who had invested in it and named it after the patron saint of "achieving the impossible". The men who worked on the well built a baseball field nearby for recreation. One of the workers, Snipe Conley (called Snipe Connelly in the book), had played baseball in the major leagues and hoped to do so again (the book says that he later played in the majors), and the Santa Rita oil well, after 18 months of drilling, finally came in as a gusher. The well and baseball were thus connected and the medallions depicting a baseball player on one side began to be worn by baseball players in Texas. The book also claims that the person who retrieved the home run ball hit by Bobby Thomson in 1951 (called " The Shot Heard Round The World") was a Roman Catholic nun of the Felician Order named Sister Helen, who later took the name Sister Helen Rita.
- St. Rita's forum
- National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia (in the USA)
- Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Rita of Cascia
- Patron Saints: Saint Rita
- Catholic Tradition: Saint Rita of Cascia: Saint of the Impossible
- Augustinians of the Midwest: Saint Rita of Cascia
- Cascia: Una Historia de Poder y Pasión (official home of the 2007 film release from Dos Corazones Films)
- picture of St. Rita being impaled in the forehead by a thorn from the thorny crown of Jesus
- Rita of Cascia at Find a Graveca:Rita de Càsciahr:Sveta Rita