Feast Day: 22 May
Patronage: Impossible causes
St Rita, an Augustinian nun from 14th-century Cascia in Italy, is the patroness of impossible causes and hopeless circumstances because of her difficult life.
From an early age St. Rita desired to become a nun, but her parents insisted that she marry. Out of obedience to her parents, St. Rita entered an arranged marriage at the age of twelve. Her husband was cruel and harsh; yet Rita met his cruelty with kindness and patience. After many years of prayer, patience, and trust in God, she eventually won her husband over to greater civility and kindness. She also had two sons whom she loved deeply.
In the 14th century, Italy was rampant with warring families caught in a vicious circle of assassinations and feuds (a little like Romeo and Juliet’s Capulets and Montagues). St. Rita’s family was caught up in this and her husband was murdered as a result of a family rivalry. Both of Rita’s sons fell sick and died within a year.
After the death of her husband and her two sons, St. Rita was all alone and sought to enter the convent, as had been her desire from childhood. However, she was turned away because of her family’s association with the feuds.
St. Rita, faced disappointment and another impossible situation, so she prayed for the intercession of the saints. She was eventually granted entry into the convent and was known as a holy and prayerful nun, often meditating on the sufferings of the crucified Christ.
One day, while praying before the crucifix, St. Rita received a visible wound on her forehead. This was a mystical but visible mark (stigmata) of Jesus’ wound from the crown of thorns, symbolizing St. Rita’s unity with Christ in his sufferings. She lived in the convent for over forty years and died on 22 May 1457 when she was in her seventies and was canonised by Pope Leo XIII on 24 May 1900.