Our saint of the week is one whose whole sanctity is based on her great virtue of hope. St. Rita of Cascia was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, Italy. She lived a very difficult life on earth, but she never let it destroy her faith or her hope.
Although she had a deep wish to enter religious life, her parents arranged her marriage at a young age to a cruel and unfaithful man. Because of Rita’s prayers, he finally experienced a conversion after almost 20 years of unhappy marriage, only to be murdered by an enemy soon after his conversion. Her two sons became ill and died following their father’s death, leaving Rita without family.
She hoped again to enter the religious life, but was denied entrance to the Augustinian convent many times before finally being accepted. Upon entry, Rita was asked to tend to a dead piece of vine as an act of obedience. She watered the stick obediently, and it inexplicably yielded grapes. The plant still grows at the convent, and its leaves are distributed to those seeking miraculous healing.
For the rest of her life until her death in 1457, Rita experienced illness and an ugly, open wound on her forehead that repulsed those around her. Like the other calamities in her life, she accepted this situation with grace, viewing her wound as a physical participation in Jesus’ suffering from His crown of thorns. Through it all she never last hope. Although her life was filled with seemingly impossible circumstances and causes for despair, St. Rita never lost her hope in the loving mercy and help of God.
Her feast day is May 22. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us.