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Saint Rita of Cascia is the patroness of impossible causes. Most have in their minds Saint Jude, patron of difficult cases. I think I need all the help I can get, and Saint Rita does “heavenly” work for me. I was privileged to visit her shrine in Italy a few years back.

Her story is an interesting one, often well forgotten if you don’t known her. At twelve her parents engaged her marry Paolo Mancini, a man with anger issues, really, an abusive person. At 18 she married and gave birth to twin sons. Rita, though, had her eyes on the convent.

Rita’s sanity, indeed, her sanctity, is demonstrated by the fact that somehow she mustered the strength to suffer Paolo’s abuses for eighteen years before he was stabbed to death. Their sons wanted vengeance on their father’s killers, but realizing that they’d lose the beauty of heaven, Rita prayed that they receive from God the grace to forgive the killers. The twins died before they could lose their souls.

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Rita wanted to fulfill her perceived call to the Augustinian convent. Life not being easy, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers. Mother superior denied Rita’s request for entrance for fear problems. Rita, undeterred by human wisdom sought the assistance of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, who warmed the hearts of the nuns to bring peace to the convent and stave off serious difficulties: she did become a nun of the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen. A vocation she lived for 40 years.

Her virtues included prayer, acts of charity, and peace-making. Christ crucified was her companion so much so she accepted as a visible manifestation of His for her a bleeding crown of thorns for 15 years.

In the last fours years of Rita’s life she was sickly and subsisted on Holy Communion.

That Rita was a wife, mother, widow, nun, and peace-maker, she knew firsthand the difficulties of life: faith in God test but never prone to nihilism.

Saint Rita, pray for us.