St. Rita of Cascia

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Rita.
St. Rita was born in Cascia in central Italy, and from early on, her parents taught her to be a virtuous person. She often thought about the suffering of Jesus, and when she was a teenager, she spent hours praying in her room. She wanted to be a Sister and consecrate her life to God, but her parents thought it would be good if she married, so she was introduced to Paul Ferdinando and they married.
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Now Paul had a furious temper, and ‘Fiery Paul’ often yelled at his wife and treated her cruelly. Yet Rita prayed for him and remained always gentle. They had two sons, who also inherited Paul’s fiery temper. As the years passed however, Paul came to admire his wife’s patience, and he became a changed man. The lion was changed into a lamb! Sadly however, after 18 years of marriage, some enemies murdered her husband.
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Although this was hard on Rita, she then learned of a more terrible thing: her sons had vowed to avenge their father’s death. She prayed night and day that they would not commit this crime, and even prayed that they would die rather than commit murder. Her prayer was answered. The two sons contracted an illness and soon, both of them died before they could commit the crime.
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Rita then resolved to dedicate the rest of her life completely to God, and she became a Religious Sister. From then on, her life was entirely occupied with trying to do God’s will in every task of the day. One day, she went before the crucifix and prayed: ‘Lord, make me suffer with you.’ She felt a sharp pain in her forehead, as blood trickled down her face. The wound never healed, and always gave her pain. A horrible smell came forth from the wound that kept people away from her. She moved into a room away from the other sisters where in her prayer life she grew even closer to Christ. Even though she lived with pain, she felt enormous joy and peace.
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One day, a bright light shown in her room; Jesus and Mary appeared to her and told her she would be in heaven in 3 days. She asked a visitor to go to the garden at her old house, and bring her a rose. Now it was not the season for roses, but there in the garden was a rose bush in full bloom! The day she died, the church bells of the city rang by themselves.
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St. Rita is the patron saint of those who suffer from loneliness, difficult marriages, impossible causes, sick people, and wounds. She is often pictured with a wound in her forehead and holding a rose.

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