Devotion to Santa Rita in Cascia, Italy Devotion to Santa Rita in Cascia, Italy 

Saint Rita: Despite bitter suffering, always full of joy, working countless miracles

Seek Santa Rita, Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, who despite bitter suffering, worked countless miracles and was always full of joy, suggested Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the Vatican's Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, during the Mass he celebrated for the beloved Saint's Liturgical Feast, today, 22 May, in Cascia, Italy.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Seek Santa Rita, convinced that as Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, she can continue working her miracles today.

This was an invitation offered by the Vatican's Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, during the beloved Saint's Liturgical Feast, today, 22 May, during his homily in Cascia, Italy. Rita was born in 1381, near the Umbrian town of Cascia, in the village of Roccaporena.

The Cardinal expressed gratitude for the invitation to celebrate the Eucharist with the faithful of Cascia, and all the pilgrims who traveled there, on the feast of this saint, who is "so universally known, loved, and invoked."

In preparing for this event, he recalled his review of the records printed for her canonization, as he praised the intense life of the saint, who was a spouse, widow, and consecrated, and her stigmata.

He recalled how Pope St. John Paul II emphasized that the stigmata shining on her forehead is "the authentication of her Christian maturity." The Lord, he continued, "gave Saint Rita the grace 'to bear in her heart and on her forehead, the signs of Christ's love and passion.'"

Before Rita was a religious sister, she had been in a terrible marriage, where her husband was abusive. He died, but also dying were Rita's two sons, shortly after her spouse died, leaving her alone.

United to Christ, like the branch to the vine

The Cardinal recalled how the Gospel passage tells of Jesus reminding us that we must be united to Him like the branch to the vine.

"Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:4-5).

The Cardinal said, "St Augustine, and with St Rita we are certainly in an Augustinian context, preached that 'we all together, united to our Head, are Christ," and that "without our Head, we are worth nothing." "Why?" Semeraro asked, "Because with our Head, we are the vine; without our Head, we are broken branches, destined not for some work of the farmer, but only for the fire."

That is why, Cardinal Semeraro stressed, the Lord says in the Gospel: "I am the vine, you are the branches, my Father is the farmer; and He adds: without Me you can do nothing'. 

Despite bitter suffering, a model full of joy

We must apply what St Augustine said, the Vatican Prefect insisted, to all of us, underscoring that, in this way, St Rita is a great model for us, as she lived the charity of Jesus Christ toward her neighbours.

He recalled how Rita once saw a poor man in the winter who trembling for lack of clothes, and gave him one of her garments.

From the Gospel proclamation, we also heard another word: "I have told you these things that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full"

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ('The Joy of the Gospel'), the Cardinal recalled, opens with these words: "The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the whole life of those who encounter Jesus. Those who allow themselves to be saved by Him are freed from sin, from sadness, from inner emptiness, from isolation. With Jesus Christ joy is always born and reborn" (Evangelii gaudium, no. 1).  

Despite the bitter suffering caused to her by the stigmata, he underscored, she personified this, as she was always full of joy.

“Despite the dramas and sorrows that accompanied the events of her life, she 'had joy in her heart and spread it around her.”

Impossible causes, miracles

The Vatican prefect recalled her ability to bring miracles in the seemingly most impossible of circumstances.

One day in the month of January, a cousin of St. Rita's came to the Convent to visit her briefly, at a time of great suffering. The cousin asked St. Rita if she could do anything to help her, to which Rita welcomed the offer to ask her cousin to bring her a rose from the garden from her old home in Roccaporena."

Considering it was wintertime, the climate in Roccaporena would have been very cold. Despite trying to manage Rita's expectations by voicing her skepticism that she would find a rose, Rita responded that "nothing is impossible for God."

Site of Devotion for Santa Rita
Site of Devotion for Santa Rita

This reassurance encouraged the cousin to go to the garden, where she would see and pluck a perfect rose, which she would bring to Rita in Cascia. To commemorate this miraculous event, each 22 May, roses are blessed each year in all the churches of the Augustinian Order on the feast of St. Rita, according to Catholic tradition.

Another miracle took place in January, when St. Rita asked her cousin to bring two figs from the garden. Again, the cousin would find, on a frozen fig tree, beautiful figs and bring them back to Santa Rita.

Cardinal Semeraro concluded his homily by urging all faithful to turn to Santa Rita, and invoking, through her intercession, the same joy for us, our families, for the diocesan Community, and the entire Holy Church. 

Pilgrims flock to Cascia, Italy, to pray for St. Rita's intercession
Pilgrims flock to Cascia, Italy, to pray for St. Rita's intercession


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22 May 2023, 12:30