Saint Rita

St Rita of Cascia was born in 1381; she shared from her earliest year’s an extraordinary piety and love of prayer. She had set her heart upon dedicating herself to God in the Augustinian convent at Cascia but her father and mother insisted she should marry. St Rita sorrowfully submitted to their will, deeming that in obeying her parents she was fulfilling God’s will. Her parents choice was an unfortunate one, her husband was brutal and so violent was his temper that he was the terror of the neighbourhood. For eighteen years Rita patiently bore this terrible marriage, her heart breaking as she watched her two sons take after their father’s evil ways. Rita prayed constantly for the conversion of her family and eventually her husband was converted, begging her forgiveness for all the suffering he had caused her. Shortly after this he was brought home dead, someone had repaid him for his violence. Her sons vowed to avenge their father’s death and in an agony of sorrow Rita prayed that they might not loose their souls in this manner. Before they could act, both were struck down with a fatal illness. Their mother nursed them tenderly and succeeded in bringing them to the faith, so that they died forgiving and forgiven.

Left alone in the world, Rita now entered the convent at Cascia, she made an excellent nun, living a penitential life of prayer and charity and dedicated herself to looking after the sick. From childhood she had had a special devotion to the sufferings of our Lord, one day after hearing an eloquent sermon on the Crown of Thorns, Rita was absorbed in prayer when she became aware of a pain in her forehead, as if a thorn had imbedded itself there. It developed into an open wound, which became so offensive that she had to be secluded from the other nuns. This wound healed only for a short period of time in 1450, this was a miracle in answer to a prayer, allowing her to go on a pilgrimage to Rome, the wound reappeared on her return and remained with her until her death, obliging her to live as a recluse. She died May 22, 1457 and her body has remained incorrupt until this day, even now pilgrims who go to visit her tomb will smell the sweet scent of roses that has remained with her since her body was exhumed.

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