Saint Rita of Cascia, patroness of lost causes

This is the most personal post I will have written for this blog, but, as my publication date draws ever closer (tomorrow, in fact) I find it impossible not to mention Saint Rita.

A few years ago, while I was writing Mistress of the Revolution, things were not going well in my life. At that time my friend Christiane, who knew of my troubles, told me that she was praying to Saint Rita on my behalf. Truth be told, I had only vaguely heard of Saint Rita. She is not an “intellectual” saint, like Saint Teresa of Avila or Saint Therese de Lisieux, writers and Doctors of the Church. Neither is she a military heroine like Saint Joan of Arc.

So who was Saint Rita? She was born in the late Middle Ages into a well-to-do family. As a teenager, she wanted to become a nun, but her parents had other plans: they had chosen a suitor for her. She obeyed out of filial duty, though her future husband was notorious for his brutality. She bore him two sons.

Through her patience, she managed to bring her husband’s temper under some control over the eighteen years of their marriage. He nevertheless remained violently involved in the civil wars that were tearing Italy apart. He was ambushed and stabbed to death. Rita’s sons, true to the mores of the times, wanted to avenge their father’s death, but she convinced them not to become murderers themselves. Soon afterwards, both met untimely deaths.

Agabiti Saint Rita Virgin Child

Rita’s faith helped her survive the loss of all of her loved ones. She had never forgotten her vocation and applied to the nearby Augustinian convent of Cascia. At first her request was rejected on the grounds that she was a widow, and possibly because some of the nuns were related to her husband’s murderers. Yet she was not discouraged and displayed her usual gentle persistence. She was finally allowed to take the veil. Having reached middle-age and experienced utter bereavement, she could at last follow the path for which she was destined.

She spent the remaining forty years of her life in the convent, where she was noted for her humility, patience and piety. Shortly before her death, she asked one of her female relatives to bring her back a rose from the garden of her former home. It was midwinter, not a season when roses bloom in central Italy. Yet the cousin found a single rose in the garden and brought it back to Rita, who kissed it and offered it to the Mother Superior. A simple but particularly moving miracle: Rita, from her deathbed, remembered the beauty of life and all living things. To this day roses are associated with her.

Rita has been revered as a saint since her death, though she was not officially canonized until 1900. John Paul II spoke of “the crowds of those who devotedly call upon her with affectionate familiarity
and confidently bring to her the problems and anxieties that weigh upon their
hearts.” Indeed for centuries she has been invoked as the patroness of lost causes, the saint of the impossible.

So my friend’s choice of Saint Rita for her prayers for me could not have been more apt. Apart from the struggles of my personal life, I was a novice author with a half-completed manuscript, written on my scant spare time, in my second language. I had no connections in publishing, no knowledge of the book business. Publication was at best a faint hope, or more likely a pipe dream, as some would remind me. It was not quite impossible, but it came very close.

Yet everything I hoped for happened. I found my way through a time of loss and sorrow. I completed my novel. I found an agent, a publisher. As my Mom often says, I have been blessed in many ways.

Now is the time for yet another prayer to Saint Rita.

And to illustrate this post, this work by Pier Paolo Agabiti, representing her, in her nun’s wimple, with the Blessed Virgin and Child. It was painted around 1500, only fifty
years after Rita’s death, and is still kept in her beloved convent of
Cascia. It may be the closest we have to a portrait of the saint.

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16 Comments to “Saint Rita of Cascia, patroness of lost causes”

  1. Danielle says:

    St. Rita,

    Thank you for blessing my family and for answering my petitions. For this I will be forever grateful to you. I will continue to pray to you, St. Rita, for others in need of your charity and blessings. Amen

  2. A says:

    Thank you St Rita, for your intercessions.. Thank you for the healing too

  3. AGP says:

    Thank you Saint Rita for all your intercessions. My toe’s skin condition has fully healed from the black spot and the affected part is now 100% healthy once again!! Thank You Lord God and Lord Jesus too for answering my prayers through the intercessions of Saint Rita for me!

    Nine-Day Novena to Saint Rita:

    O Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the Advocate of the Hopeless and even of the Impossible; St. Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from Him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not alwavs relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee. We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify, thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray: (here mention your request).

    Obtain for us our request
    By the singular merits of thy childhood,
    By thy perfect union with the Divine Will,
    By thy heroic sufferings during thy married life,
    By the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband,
    By the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God,
    By thy miraculous entrance into the convent,
    By thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings,
    By the suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy Crucified Savior,
    By the divine love which consumed thy heart,
    By that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on which alone thou didst exist for 4 years,
    By the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse,
    By the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life.

    Pray for us, 0 holy St. Rita,
    that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

    Let us pray: O God, Who in Thine infinite tenderness hast vouchsafed to regard the prayer of Thy servant, Blessed Rita, and dost grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill and efforts, in reward of her compassionate love and firm reliance on Thy promise, have pity on our adversity and succor us in our calamities, that the unbeliever may know Thou art the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in Thee, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

  4. I, Candyrose will firmly believe Saint Rita of Cascia is one saint that has touched me from deep within.I’ve come across many saints, but not like Saint Rita of Cascia.Her amazing stories
    can turn any stone hearted to melt.I personally felt it on so may instinces.The most I felt is when anything hurts me or I cried being hurt by people who hurt the soul,not only the heart then I call upon this lovely saint & she always helped me.My beloved “SAINT RITA OF CASCIA”

  5. please pray to dear saint rita for a complete lasting miracle in all areas of my day to day life – amen – the same goes with everybody else
    also to please take out the tormenting demon inside me for good and soon – amen
    thank you from james

  6. Ainoa says:

    Special intentions:
    pray to Saint Rita that plaese let thingsbe the way when we got married. Let those things been told by my husband back then be the truth , the only thruth and let him come to me and tell me once again those things. AS the current situation is very difficult and disturbing me to whom to trust in. Plaese whathe told me then be the truth since he swore on our children and on our love that what he said was the truth ,
    pray for me

  7. Happy Easter!

    In a prior post on Saint Rita, I chose a detail of this image of the Virgin and Child (Rita is second from the left, in her nun’s white wimple and veil.) This work was painted by Pier Paolo Agabiti around 1500, only fifty years after Rita’s death, and is still kept in her beloved convent of Cascia. It may be the closest we have to a portrait of the saint. I hated to crop it then, but I knew that if I had not done it, Rita, always discreet and humble, would not have stood out.Now this Easter post …

  8. Maria says:

    Special Intentions :
    As a widow the problems that I m facing
    stress
    loneliness
    jobless
    finance

    Son Job, promotion, Health

    Brother who has been missing for many years

    Keep us in prayers at all time

    Thx & god bless

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  13. Happy Easter!

    In a prior post on Saint Rita, I chose a detail of this image of the Virgin and Child (Rita is second from the left, in her nun’s white wimple and veil.) This work was painted by Pier Paolo Agabiti around 1500, only fifty years after Rita’s death, and is still kept in her beloved convent of Cascia. It may be the closest we have to a portrait of the saint. I hated to crop it then, but I knew that if I had not done it, Rita, always discreet and humble, would not have stood out.Now this Easter post …

  14. Happy Easter!

    In a prior post on Saint Rita, I chose a detail of this image of the Virgin and Child (Rita is second from the left, in her nun’s white wimple and veil.) This work was painted by Pier Paolo Agabiti around 1500, only fifty years after Rita’s death, and is still kept in her beloved convent of Cascia. It may be the closest we have to a portrait of the saint. I hated to crop it then, but I knew that if I had not done it, Rita, always discreet and humble, would not have stood out.Now this Easter post …

  15. CATHERINE DELORS says:

    As John Paul said, “Saint Rita knew the sufferings of the human heart.” That is why many people can relate to her in such a personal, familiar way.

  16. What a moving post! St. Rita is a friend of mine, too!

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