“Following the spirituality of St Augustine, she became a disciple of the Crucified One and an “expert in suffering”; she learned to understand the sorrows of the human heart. Rita thus became the advocate of the poor and the despairing, obtaining countless graces of consolation and comfort for those who called upon her in the most varied situations.” – John Paul II, May 20, 2000
Who was St. Rita?
She was the daughter of Italian Villagers, not wealthy but very respectable. Her father was the local mediator, who among others, was helping to resolve any neighbor conflicts – in those days known as Conciliatore di Cristo (English: Peacemakers of Christ). They lived in a small suburb of Cascia, mountain area of Umbria (central Italy). For a long time parents prayed for a child as they were already in old age, when St. Rita was born. As a young girl, she loved hiking to the top of the mountains to pray over there. When she was over 18 years old, she wanted to enter a convent of religious sisters but, instead, her parents have chosen a husband candidate for her. The husband candidate had a military background, was a politician, and had a violent temper. The marriage with Rita, who had mediator’s talent, did not stop his violent temper. Rita in the first few months of her marriage tried to confront him, but over the time began to give way to more and more prayers in his intention. In human perception, it seemed that her prayers were not effective, as her husband began to go into more and more serious political and family conflicts. The birth of two sons brought moments of peace to their marriage. However, before they reached adulthood, Rita’s husband was involved in another family and political disputes. Rita’s husband was killed in an ambush near their family mill (mill ruins are preserved up to this day). Their sons wanted to take revenge. Their desire of vendetta (revenge) increased the family conflict and it seemed that the only way out are additional deaths. However, the sons did not have time to pursue their desire of vendetta, as according to local families and written accounts by hagiographers, they died of dysentery.
After the deaths of her husband and sons, Rita decided to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cascia. However, she was turned away most likely due to some nuns who were relatives of her husband’s killers. But, Rita was certain of her vocation and for the second time asked nuns for a permission to enter the same monastery. She was given a condition: the task of reconciling families in conflict around Casci. And, this was the most difficult path of the future saint. To fulfill the condition, she had to find the killers of her husband forgive them and ask for their forgiveness.
She did not need much time to fulfill the condition. Soon she went to the family which was involved in killing of her husband, she has forgiven them and on behalf of her family she asked for their forgiveness. After the incident, she became a symbol of a woman capable of reconciling families in dispute. This way she was admitted to the monastery in Casci.
Prayer to St. Rita:
For the mighty and famous Saint Rita, here at your feet a miserable soul in need of help turns to you in the hope that it will be heard.
Because I am unworthy of my infidelity, I dare not expect my prayers to be able to beg God. That’s why I feel the need to have a powerful advocate behind me, so I choose you, Saint Rita, because you are the unparalleled saint of difficult and hopeless matters.
O dear Saint, take my case to heart, plead for God, to ask for the grace that I so need and for which I am so eager (please express the grace you are asking for)
Do not let me leave you without being heard. If there is something in me that would be an obstacle in receiving the grace I am asking for help to remove this obstacle: support my request with your precious merit and present it to your heavenly Spouse, combining it with your request. In this way, my request will be presented by you, a faithful bride among the most faithful ones. You felt the pain of His passion, how could He reject your request and not hear it?
All my hope is in you and through you, I am waiting with a calm heart to fulfill my wishes. O dear Saint Rita, make my trust and my hope not be disappointed, please plead that my request will not be rejected. Ask God for what I am asking, and I will make sure that all will know the goodness of your heart and the great power of your intercession.
For the sweetest Heart of Jesus, which has always been so tender for the smallest misery of mankind, let be moved by my needs and, regardless of my weakness and unworthiness, please give me the grace which is in my heart and for which Your eternal bride, Saint Rita is asking for me and with me.
Oh, yes, for the faithfulness that Saint Rita has always shown God’s grace, for all the qualities with which You honored her soul, for everything she suffered in her life as a wife and mother, and this way participated in your painful passion and finally for unlimited opportunity to intercede through which You wanted to reward her faithfulness, give me Your grace, which I need so much.
And you, Mary the Virgin, our best Heavenly Mother, who keep God’s treasures and distribute all favors, support with your powerful intercession the prayers of Your great worshiper Saint Rita, that the grace for which I ask God has been given to me.