For a long time this statue of St. Rita stood near my laundry area, an appropriate place, I thought, because she's the Saint of the Impossible. But, she's also a saint whose story it's good to remember if I'm tempted to bemoan my lot in life. You see, though she was highly favored spiritually, Rita's physical world was about as bad as it could get. Next to the problems she encountered in her married life, I have nothing to complain about.
St. Rita was born to pious parents in the village of Roccaporena near Cascia, Italy, in 1381. At an early age, she felt called to the religious life, but in obedience to her parents, married a man named Paolo Mancini; twin boys were shortly born to them. Because of the political nature of her husband's profession, Rita's homelife was filled with stress and worry for her husband, and some sources say that this same stress led Paolo to be a neglectful and abusive husband at first, but Rita, with love, prayers, and patience, turned his heart and saved his soul. Unfortunately, though, when their children were young men, Paolo was murdered by one of political enemies, and the twins, led by the Italian notion of vendetta, sought payback. Their mother, fearing for her sons' souls more than their lives, prayed in earnest that they would be turned from their plan, and her prayers were heard, but not in the way most of us would prefer; both sons died of natural causes before they could take action, ending their lives in the state of grace, forgiving their enemies. A hard solution, but one that their mother accepted gratefully.
But Rita was now alone in the world. She turned to the vocation denied her in her early life, and sought admission to the convent of the Augustinian Nuns of Saint Mary Magdalene, but she was denied. So, of course, she resorted to prayer, asking particularly the assistance of her three special patrons, St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino. The story goes that after prayer, she felt called to request admission again, but, arriving at the convent, found the gates locked. The will of God, however, finds no obstacle in a locked gate, and St. Rita, miraculously appearing inside the gates, applied for admission once more and was welcomed into the Order.
She lived out her life as an Augustinian nun, following her vocation with the Nuns of St. Mary Magdalene for forty years. When she was about sixty years old, she was favored with the stigmata, a thorn in her forehead, a wound which caused her extreme pain, but which she bore with grace and patience for love of Christ and the good of souls.
St. Rita died on May 22nd, 1457. She is an incorruptible, and, as well as being the patron saint of Impossible Cases, she is the patroness of sickness, wounds, marital problems, abuse, and mothers.
** You can go here for a beautiful and inspiring blog dedicated entirely to St. Rita of Cascia!
** There is a Novena to St. Rita here.