Saint Rita of Cascia

22th May

The life story of St. Rita of Cascia sounds more like a melodramatic novel set in the Middle Ages than the life story of a saint! She was an outstanding woman who faced the challenges of her life on her way to sainthood.She was a married woman, a mother, a widow, a nun, a saint. Her real name was Margherita called Rita for short. She was born in Roccaporena, on the outskirts of Cascia in Italy. She lived between 1381 and 1457, at a time when Italy was riddled with turbulent events, marked by violent feuds between rival leading families, involving murders and revenge.

From a very young age Rita wanted to enter a convent. However, her parents, according to the customs of those days, arranged a marriage for her when she was still a teenager. Her husband was a violent man and he mistreated Rita, while continuing to be involved in violent feuds. But she continued to be patient and forgiving, as she fulfilled her role as his wife and mother of their two twin sons. She prayed for him endlessly and eventually he changed his ways. However, one day he was murdered by a rival family in revenge of a previous feud. Their two sons, vowed to avenge their father’s murder. Rita prayed to God to safeguard her sons from committing murder, to the extent that she would rather see them dead than to see them commit the mortal sin of murder. Her two sons became seriously ill with dysentery and died soon after having converted. Rita, now felt that she could fulfil her call to continue serving God as an Augustinian nun in the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. However her request was refused. Her background, through her husband’s activities caused the nuns to be hesitant in accepting her among them fearing that ‘unfinished business’ from her husband’s past, could follow her beyond the convent walls.

Rita had pardoned her husband’s murderers publicly, but she was also requested to find a way to end the feud between the rival families! Undaunted by this seemingly impossible task, she set out to achieve her mission. Both rival families were impressed by her courage in her demands for peace. As a result, both families signed an agreement of peace.

Rita was then accepted in the Monastery where she spent her days in prayer and contemplation. One day, as she was in deep meditation on the Passion of Christ, a deep wound appeared on her forehead, as if she had been pierced by a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorns. It caused her to suffer until her death.

St. Rita of Cascia remains as the patron saint for the intercession of impossible cases and circumstances.

In several underdeveloped countries, tribal feuds still exist, often developing in violent outcomes. In our societies, we do not encounter violent family feuds in the streets but we do develop an ‘us-them’ mentality in supporting opposing political parties or views, other cultures and religions, even in supporting opposing football teams or even in rivalry over village feasts. Frequently these attitudes are expressed, through the availability of the social media,  in hate speech, fuelling antagonism that could promote violence.

  • Let us take the opportunities when they arise, to respect others with a point of view different from ours. Sit with the children in these situations and talk about it, after sorting our own thoughts first!
  • Children have a tendency to think that they are always right and others are wrong, because they struggle with ‘flexible thinking.’ Tolerating the opinion of others is a skill that we can help children to develop by encouraging them to listen to others and by making ourselves available to listen to them!

Rita persevered in prayer and personal efforts to face the challenges in her life. This is the virtue of perseverance. It means doing the right thing even when it is hard, pushing oneself to work through challenges. It is a basic value that we need to instil in our children as it will promote their spiritual growth while they grow into adults of integrity, building them up to be responsible and resilient.

  • Reward children for hard work, not simply because they are smart.
  • Encourage children with positive comments when they struggle with school issues: in maths, an essay, in games, a presentation. With the young ones let them strive to achieve getting dressed on their own, tying shoestrings, doing their bed!

For Family Prayer Time

  • Pray for those we do not see eye to eye with, for those with whom we had a disagreement.
  • Let the children ask for the intercession of St. Rita for help with situations that seem difficult or troublesome for them even if they seem insignificant to us!
  • SING! The  More We Get Together.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.