Saint Rita, Come to Our Aid
by Catherine Fournier
Born 1381, Died 1457
Feast Day: May 22
Patron of: sterility, infertility, bodily ills, sterility, sickness, sick people, desperate or impossible causes, lost causes, forgotten causes, difficult marriages,parenthood,victims of physical spouse abuse, widows
Symbol: nun holding a crown of thorns; nun holding roses; nun holding roses and figs; nun with a wound on her forehead
Saint Rita was named Margarita by her parents. Her parents, both devout Catholics who were known as "Peacemakers of Jesus," were both quite old when Rita was born. Because of their age, they must have worried about their daughter's future, and must have been anxious to make sure of her future.
Though she wanted to enter a convent, when she was 12 they married her an older man. He turned out to be an ill-tempered, abusive individual, who treated Rita and their twin sonsvery badly. He drank, was involved in crime, and got into a lot of fights. He made many enemies. Rita prayed very hard for her husband's soul, that he would reform and become closer to God. After many years and many prayers, her husband did reform and learn to love God. He began to attend Church regularity and pray with Saint Rita.
Unfortunately, he still had enemies from the bad part of his life. One day, he was stabbed to death by one of his enemies. Her two sons who Rita had raised in faith, swore vengeance on their father's killers, but later forgave the offenders.
When her sons died, Rita was finally free to follow her desire. She entered an Augustinian convent.She was devoted to the Passion and spent hours in prayer and meditation in front of a Crucifix. In response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns. It gave off a foul odor and and bled for 15 years. She suffered with it until her death.
Saint Rita is well known and loved around the world as a the patron of hopeless causes because everyone thought that her husband was a hopeless case who would never improve himself. The many miracles that have been attributed to her show how much she is loved by God.
A "Life" of Saint Rita, was written at the time of her beatification by the Augustinian, Jacob Carelicci. Its information was taken from two older biographies. Saint Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. According to acounts, she was the daughter of parents advanced in years and because of their famous charity they were known as the "Peacemakers of Jesus Christ".
From an earlier age, Rita's great desire was to become a nun, but, in obedience to the will of her parents, she, at the age of twelve, was married. Rita became a good wife and mother, but her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger he often mistreated his wife. He taught their children his own evil ways. Rita tried to perform her duties faithfully and to pray and receive the sacraments frequently.
For eighteen years she carried out her duties and prayed for the reform of her husband. Despite his cruel and ill-tempered treatment of her, she never wavered in her faith, or her hope that he would open his heart to God. Finally, he did become a better husband and man. Unfortunately, his past evil life had earned him many enemies. One night, he was stabbed to death by one of these former fellows in crime.
Rita had raised her twin sons in the faith, though her husband did his best to corrupt their sons. When he was murdered, she tried in vain to dissuade her twin sons from attempting to take revenge, but they were determined to follow their hatred regardless of the consequences. In fear for their immortal souls, Rita prayed the prayer of a desperate mother; she appealed to Heaven to prevent such a crime on their part, that they been taken from her in death, rather than committ murder. They both died, soon after, reconciled to God.
Shortly afterwards, her two sons died, and Rita was alone in the world. Prayer, fasting, penances of many kinds, and good works filled her days. Saint Rita applied for admission to the Augustinian convent at Cascia, but was refused because she was a widow. She continued to apply, and appealed in prayer to the saints to assist her. By Divine intervention, she gained admission, received the habit of the order and in due time her profession. As a religious she was an example for all, excelled in mortifications, and was widely known for the efficacy of her prayers. Sister Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour," she said one day, and suddenly one of the thorns from the crucifix struck her on the forehead. It left a deep wound which did not heal and which caused her much suffering for the rest of her life. On account of the many miracles reported to have been wrought at her intercession she received in Spain the title of La Santa de los Impossibiles. She was solemnly canonized 24 May, 1900.
For centuries Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) has been one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church. She is known as the "Saint of the Impossible" because of her amazing answers to prayers, as well as the remarkable events of her own life. From an early Saint Rita wanted to become a nun, but in obedience to her aged parents, she married at the age of twelve. Her husband caused her much suffering, but she repaid his cruelty with prayer and kindness. For nearly twenty years, she prayed for her husband's conversion.
In time he was converted, becoming considerate and God-fearing. But Saint Rita was to undergo another great sorrow when her husband was murdered by an enemy. To make matters still worse, Saint Rita then found that her two sons were planning to avenge their father's murder. She feared they would put their desires into effect in accord with the evil custom of the Vendetta.
With a heroic mother's love for their souls, she begged God to take them from this life rather than allow them to commit this great sin. Not long afterward they both died, after preparing themselves to meet God.
Alone in the world, without spouse and children, Saint Rita devoted herself to prayer, penance and works of charity. After a time she applied for admittance to the Augustinian Convent in Cascia. She was refused because she was a widow, but after praying to her three special patron saints Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino she miraculously recieved permission to enter the convent. This took place around the year 1411.
In the convent, Saint Rita's life practiced great charity and severe penances. She obtained remarkable cures, deliverance from the devil and other special favors from God for others. In response to her prayer that she might share in the pain of His Crown of Thorns, Our Lord gave Saint Rita a thorn wound in her forehead. According to accounts, it was very painful and gave off a disagreeable odor, yet she considered it a very great grace. She prayed, "O loving Jesus, increase my patience according as my sufferings increase." The wound lasted the rest of her life.
Saint Rita died on May 22, 1457 at the age of 76. People flocked to the convent to pay their last respects to this much-loved lady. Innumerable miracles took place through her intercession, and devotion to her spread far and wide. Saint Rita's body was preserved perfectly incorrupt for several centuries, and at times it gave off a sweet fragrance. God has heard Saint Rita's prayers for others on countless occasions, and certainly she will gladly intercede once again, on behalf of those who pray to her now thus continuing to perceive the truth of her great name: The Saint of the Impossible!
Novena to Saint Rita
Traditionally said between the 13th and 22nd of May.
O HOLY PATRONESS of those in need, Saint Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the Advocate of the Hopeless and even of the Impossible; Saint Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from Him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not alwavs relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee. We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify, thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray thee grant that (here mention your request).
Obtain for us our request By the singular merits of thy childhood, By thy perfect union with the Divine Will, By thy heroic sufferings during thy married life, By the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband, By the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God, By thy miraculous entrance into the convent, By thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings, By the suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy Crucified Saviour, By the divine love which consumed thy heart, By that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on which alone thou didst exist for four years, By the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse, By the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life. Pray for us, 0 holy Saint Rita, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray O GOD, Who in Thine infinite tenderness hast vouchsafed to regard the prayer of Thy servant, Blessed Rita, and dost grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill and efforts, in reward of her compassionate love and firm reliance on Thy promise, have pity on our adversity and succor us in our calamities, that the unbeliever may know Thou art the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in Thee, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
For more information: check out Catholic Tradition: Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint of the Impossible