Saint Rita of Cascia

1381 – 1457

Feast:  May 22

Patron Saint of the Impossible

Peacemaker & Reconciler

A Model of Faith

Saint Rita is one of the most well known Saints of the Order of Saint Augustine.  She was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, Italy to devout parents known for serving as peacemakers in their local town.  Whenever conflict would arise between families and individuals, Rita’s parents would be called upon to bring the sides together and promote dialogue and seek resolution to the dispute.  

When Rita reached an age of maturity, she wanted to enter the Saint Mary Magdalene convent to become a nun.  However, her parents discerned the best path for her was marriage.  She was given in marriage to Paolo Mancini, with whom she raised two children.  

The Mancini family was engaged in a long-standing rivalry with another family.  When their sons had reached their teenage years, Paolo was murdered as a result of that rivaly.  Her two sons wanted revenge.  Rita, however, was influenced by her upbringing and Christian convictions.  She emphasized a message of forgiveness.  Unfortunately, her convictions and best efforts were not able to change the hearts of her sons or the Mancini family.  Her sons persisted in seeking revenge.

However, before her sons were able to avenge their father’s death, a deadly illness afflicted Roccaporena and took the life of both her sons.  Rita was now left without any family.  In her grief, she stuck closely with God and after a period of discernment felt a call to request admittance to the convent she had longed to enter as a child.  

The nuns welcomed her but ultimately denied her request due to the fact that she was associated with a family in conflict with another family.  There was fear her association with the Mancini family would negatively impact the convent.  Following this rejection she pulled the two rival families together and helped them discover the pain that their conflict was causing both to themselves and the community.  She was ultimately able to convince the rival families to enter into a peace agreement.

Following her success, Rita returned to the convent to request entrance was again.  This time her request was granted.  There she lived the remaining forty years of her life in prayer and charitable works.  About 15 years before her death, she received the stigmata, which remained until her death on May 22, 1457.

Saint Rita Understands Us

Saint Rita is a saint who understands many of the challenges we face today.  She understands what it means to discern a vocation and to face disappointments as one pursues their dreams.  She understands the day to day struggles of married life and parenthood.  She understands what it means to live through an outbreak like COVID.  She understands what it means to live through a time of political division and civil unrest as many of our towns and cities have experienced as of late.  She understands what it is like to become a victim of violence and civil unrest.  She understands what it is like to lose a child, to become a widow, to stand up for something you believe in when others (including one’s family) disagrees with you.

Saint Rita is therefore venerated as the Saint of the Impossible for the tremendous faith she exhibited as she faced many challenges in life and the many graces that have been obtained since her death by those seeking her intercession.  Further, Saint Rita is venerated as the Saint of Peacemaking due to her courageous act of forgiveness at the murder of her husband and her consistent efforts to lead others to Christ’s message of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Saint Rita also knows what it means to rely on saints.  Throughout her earthly struggles, Rita herself relied on three saints she felt could understand her.  

First, Rita relied on Saint John the Baptist.  We often encounter John the Baptist in Scripture as someone who fearlessly proclaimed the truth and called others to repent and follow the ways of God.  He did so in spite of facing great adversity, even to the point of losing his own life.  From Saint John the Baptist she learned the value of pursuing and proclaiming the truth of Christ’s message of forgiveness and reconciliation, even in the face of adversity.  

Second, she relied on Saint Augustine.  Following his conversion at the age of 33, Augustine reflected on his early years of rebellion and search for wealth, fame, and pleasure.  When he did so he realized that God had been with him the entire time.  From Augustine Rita came to trust that even in the darkest moments of life, God was still at work.  

Third, Rita relied on Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, the first Augustinian to be canonized a Saint.  Nicholas was known for his devotion to sacramental ministry, tireless service to the sick and the poor, his devotion to prayer for the faithful departed, and his intense life of prayer and mortification.  From Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Rita found inspiration for prayer as well as a Saint who could intercede on behalf of her departed husband and children.

Just as Saint Rita faithfully relied on the Saints to intercede for her, so we can rely on Saint Rita to intercede for us.


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