St Rita of Cascia, Religious – 22 May
She was born near Cascia, in Umbria in Italy. She was married at the age of 12 despite her frequently repeated wish to become a nun. Her husband was rich, quick-tempered and immoral and had many enemies. She endured his insults, abuse and infidelities for 18 years and bore him two sons, who grew to be like him.
Towards the end of his life she helped to convert her husband to a more pious way of life, but he was stabbed to death by his enemies not long afterwards. He repented before he died and was reconciled to the Church.
Her sons planned to avenge their father’s death. When Rita’s pleas were unavailing, she prayed that God should take their lives if that was the only way to preserve them from the sin of murder. They died of natural causes a year later.
Rita asked to join the convent of St Mary Magdalen at Cascia. She was rejected for being a widow, since the convent was for virgins only, and later given the impossible task of reconciling her family with her husband’s murderers. She carried out the task and was allowed to enter the convent at the age of 36. She remained there until her death at the age of 70.
She is widely honoured as a patron saint of impossible or lost causes.
Novena to St Rita
O holy Protectress of those who are in utmost need, who shines as a star of hope in the midst of darkness, in patience and fortitude as the Patriarch Job, scourge of devils, health of the sick, deliverer of those in extreme need, admiration of the saints and model of all states: with my whole heart and soul prostrate before you and firmly united to the Adorable Will of my God, through the merits of my only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and in particular through the merits of His patient wearing of that tortuous crown of thorns, which you with a tender devotion did daily contemplate; through the merits of the most sweet Virgin Mary and your own most excellent graces and virtues, I implore you to obtain my earnest petition — provided it be for the greater glory of God and my own salvation (here make your request). Herein do you guide and purify my intention, O holy Protectress and most dear advocate, that I may obtain the pardon of all my sins and grace to persevere daily, as you did, in walking with courage and generosity and unwavering fidelity upon the heavenward path on which the love of my sweet Lord desires to lead me. Amen.