by Msgr. Paul Guerin, 1882
Saint Rita was born in Italy in the late 14th century, near the little city of Cascia, of parents who though advancing in age had no children; she was the fruit of their pious prayers. At the age of twelve she resolved to consecrate herself to God by the vow of chastity, but her parents required her to marry. She obeyed; and God, who perhaps wished her to serve as an example for those having to bear with violent spouses, permitted that she be joined to a man of ferocious character, who terrified the region where he lived.
During eighteen years she succeeded so well in pacifying him that he eventually even became submissive to the laws of God. Nonetheless, his enemies killed him; and then the pious widow had to overcome her twin sons’ desire for vengeance. Again she succeeded. When the two young men died not long afterwards, she was without any further bonds to keep her in the world, and she made application to a convent of Augustinian nuns at Cascia. Never had a widow been admitted there, but Saint John the Baptist, with Saint Augustine and Saint Nicholas, who had died during the 13th century in the nearby town of Tolentino, appeared to her to answer her fervent prayers. They transported her miraculously into the convent by night, despite all the locked doors. The Sisters, finding her there in the morning, could not refuse her request any longer.
Saint Rita practiced severe mortifications, eating but once a day and taking only bread and water for food. She was a model of perfect obedience; she meditated every night, from midnight until dawn, on the Passion of Our Lord, and begged to share His sufferings. On one of these nights she felt in her forehead the pain of sharp thorns, which made there an incurable wound. The festering wound isolated her from the other Sisters, and she lived thereafter almost as a hermit in the convent. The wound was cured once for a short time, when the entire group of Sisters were to go to Rome on the occasion of a universal jubilee; on their return her wound opened again.
It was discovered that Saint Rita had the gift of miracles when a young girl was cured during her mother’s visit to the convent, to beg the Saint’s prayers for that intention. Soon many visitors were coming even from distant regions to ask her charity. She expired peacefully in May of 1456. The wound of her forehead, until then very ugly, became brilliant at the moment of her death. The shrine of Saint Rita is still a favourite pilgrimage site in Italy.
Prayer through Saint Rita’s intercession:
Glorious St. Rita, patroness of those in need, your intercession with our Lord is most powerful. Through the favors obtained by your prayers you have been called “Advocate of hopeless and even impossible cases.” St. Rita, humble and pure; patient and compassionate Lover of Christ Crucified! We have confidence that everyone who has recourse to you, will find comfort and relief. Listen to our petitions and show your power with God in our behalf. Obtain our petitions for us if they are for the greater honor of God, and for our good. We promise, if our petitions are granted, to make known your favor, and to glorify God for His gift.
Relying on your power with the merciful Savior, we ask of you…
(Offer your requests in silence)
By the singular merits of your childhood, obtain our request for us.
By your perfect union with the Divine Will, obtain our request for us.
By your acceptance of troubles in your married life, obtain our request for us.
By the anguish felt at the murder of your husband, obtain our request for us.
By your miraculous entrance into the convent, obtain our request for us.
By your daily penance and fasting, obtain our request for us.
By your courage and joy in bearing the mark of the Crucified Savior,
obtain our request for us.
By the Divine Love which consumed your life, obtain our request for us.
By your devotion in receiving the Blessed Sacrament, obtain our request for us.
By the happiness you felt in leaving this life for union with Christ, obtain our
request for us.
By the example you have given to people of every state of life, obtain our request
Pray for us, St. Rita,
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father! In Your infinite love and mercy you heed the prayer of Your beloved servant, Rita. You graciously grant favors through her intercession, which are considered impossible to human skill and effort. Relying on her compassionate love, we ask You to assist us in our trials and difficulties. Let unbelievers know that you are the helper of the humble, the defender of the weak, and the strength of those who trust in You. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen