[gtranslate] St. Rita of Cascia: A Patron for Impossible Causes - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

St. Rita of Cascia: A Patron for Impossible Causes


One of my favorite things about being Catholic is that there is a patron saint for just about every calamity life throws at us. In my own life, I often turn to St. Joseph for work, St. Michael for protection, or St. Francis de Sales when I’m writing and editing. Of course, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of patron saints we can call to, and I’m sure you have a few go-to patrons of your own. 

What about in impossible situations? When life seems to throw you into desperate and difficult times, many people turn to patron saints of impossible causes, like St. Jude. There is another saint for the impossible, however: a widow who became a nun and saw many impossible things occur. Today is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, and her intercession has seen many great and seemingly impossible miracles. 

A Life of Devotion

Born Margherita Lotti in 1381 to aged parents who rejoiced to finally have a child after years of infertility, Rita grew up as an only child in a devout home. Little Rita was attracted to prayer, solitude, and the sacraments from an early age, preferring to go to church than any other event. She had a big heart for the poor, even saving parts of her meals to feed the hungry she encountered in her Umbrian town. 

Although Rita wanted to take vows and live a life of prayer, her parents begged her to be married. So, out of obedience to her parents, Rita married a nobleman named Paolo Mancini at the young age of twelve. Unfortunately, Paolo was a violent and sometimes cruel man. Rita continued her pious ways, praying for her husband and his sinfulness. 

While St. Rita suffered greatly in her marriage, she was blessed with two sons that she greatly loved. All the while, she prayed for her family, especially for the conversion of her husband. God answered her prayer over time as Paolo became kinder to her and a better father, even accepting his wife’s rebukes over his sinful life. However, Paolo had made enemies in his violent past, and one of those enemies murdered him in the eighteenth year of their marriage. 

After Paolo’s murder, St. Rita’s sons wanted vengeance. Despite their mother’s pleadings for them to forgive and halt the cycle of violence, the two boys sought out their father’s killer and planned to take his life. St. Rita again prayed for the conversion of her sons and begged God to stop them from committing such a great sin. In a strange and tragic way, God granted this request when her sons died of sickness before being able to carry out their vengeful acts—with both receiving Confession and Last Rites before their passing. After losing her husband and children, Rita was now totally alone. 

Obedience and Miracles

After suffering the great loss of her family, St. Rita’s desire to enter religious life was lit again. She sought to enter the Augustinians in Cascia. Unfortunately, she was turned away due to the scandal of her husband’s murder. So, alone and unsure, she called out to her patron saints to help and guide her. 

Her patrons appeared to her in a vision: Saints Augustine, Nicholas of Tolentino, and John the Baptist. The saints reassured Rita and accompanied her to the Augustinian convent. As she approached the gates, the giant bolts unlocked and opened for her, and all locked doors easily opened as she made her way to the chapel. The nuns found Rita the next morning, praying in the chapel. Given her story, the nuns decided that Rita could enter their order. 

In the course of her religious life, St. Rita had many more mystical visions and answered prayers. Miracles started to occur around her, and she even received the mystical wounds of Christ. My favorite story is the one about the miraculous vine. As an act of obedience, Rita’s superior ordered her to plant and water a piece of dry wood in the courtyard. Rita did as she was ordered and watered the spot daily until a vine miraculously sprung up. That vine is still alive today and produces wine grapes. This was a small miracle, but it perfectly displays Rita’s holy obedience and the miracles that occurred because of it. 

Impossible Miracles

St. Rita continued to pray and work as an Augustinian nun until her death on May 22, 1457. She lived a long life of prayer, sacrifice, and devotion with many miracles along the way. However, the miracles didn’t stop at her death. 

At the time of her death, the nuns reported a mysterious smell of perfume emanating from her cell. They saw a light on her forehead, where she had received Christ’s mystical wounds. As if to announce her entrance into heaven, bells started ringing without explanation at the moment of her death. Even after she was buried, people kept reporting the sweet smell near her tomb. 

In 1627, after her beatification was pronounced, St. Rita’s body was taken out of its coffin and found to be preserved, even with a lifelike color to her skin. St. Rita of Cascia was granted one more miracle by becoming an Incorruptible. Incorruptibles are saints whose earthly remains are miraculously preserved from the normal process of decay. In St. Rita’s case, her eyes, and the wounds on her head and hands were still clear. 

Even today, St. Rita’s body is still remarkably preserved after centuries of exposure. Her eyes have been known to open and close on their own and people still report the sweet smell when visiting her basilica. As the Guardian Saint of Desperate and Impossible Causes, she still intercedes for others and the miracles they need in their lives. 

St. Rita of Cascia, Pray for Us

St. Rita is another patron saint for those who are undergoing difficult relationships, great tragedies, or just the daily roadblocks we encounter. As a saint of impossible causes, she is especially powerful when you feel at the end of your rope. 

O God, Who bestowed on Saint Rita such grace that she loved her enemies, and bore in her heart and on her forehead the mark of Your love and Passion, grant us, we beseech You, through her merits and intercession, a love for our enemies. Through our contemplation of Your sufferings and Passion, may we merit the reward promised to the meek and the suffering. You live and reign forever.

Photo retrieved from the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia.

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer