Patron of the Impossible
Today, on the feast of St. Rita, our friend Helena tells us more about this great Saint that many of us may not know about! Do you ever feel like something is impossible or that you are hopeless? Keep reading!
Saint Rita of Cascia is known as the patron Saint of the impossible. For this reason, I felt immediately close to her, and I chose her as my confirmation Saint without knowing much else of her story. It turns out, she was actually quite a shock since birth, and has shown a profound trust in God's Will throughout her entire life adventure.
Saint Rita was born in 1381 to parents Antonio and Amata who were known as "Peacemakers for Christ." These parents, full of the spirit of God even in their advanced years, confidently prayed for a child to bless their marriage. Eventually, an angel appeared to Amata and relayed the message of their daughter who would be an advocate for the afflicted and a helper of the helpless.
Saint Rita was baptized four days after her birth in Rocco Porena, and given the uncommon name Rita as was made known by God. The following day, white bees swarmed her cradle as she lay sleeping, without waking her as they landed on her lips and buzzed in and out of her mouth. This is thought to begin revealing the mystery of her life, later to be marked by her sweet and simple manner throughout her marvelous life.
No doubt her parents were incredible role models and she was loved deeply, but from a young age Saint Rita knew she belonged to Jesus in a special way. She knew God had made her to serve His kingdom as a nun. But her parents were old and needed to be taken care of by their daughter, as was customary of the times. Saint Rita hoped to at least preserve her virginity and consecrate herself to Christ through remaining faithful to God and her parents as she cheerfully went about her domestic duties day after day. But then, through further obedience to her parents urging, and trusting in her parent’s diligent desire to also execute God’s will, Saint Rita agreed to get married. Heartbroken for Christ, Saint Rita married the man her parents chose: Paolo Mancini who was from a non-religious, well off, influential family. Saint Rita was incredibly sorrowful, but kept her sweet smile to all those congratulating her.
Soon after their wedding day, this young wife learned Paolo’s true character as she became the target for his constant cruel words and passionate anger. Mortified and tortured by this relentless persecutor husband, Saint Rita fulfilled all of her artful housekeeping duties. Through her heroic patience to his wicked conduct, and remarkable humility to obeying her husband with zeal, over time Paolo became a changed man. Through her virtue and prayer, Saint Rita converted her husband and their marriage became bliss. After this reward for trying times, God blessed their family with two sons—Giovanni and Paolo—and Saint Rita was overjoyed to be a mother, filling their home with happiness and love as she taught her sons to be virtuous little saints-in-the-making. By keeping herself constantly in the presence of God, Saint Rita showed that virtue, true charity, and a deep love of God can all be fulfilled beautifully through the holy sacrament of matrimony.
The second round of major sorrow for Saint Rita begin in the midst of truly loving her life and her edifying role as prayerful wife and mother and daughter of God. Even though Paolo had an impressive transformation in his life, he had made many enemies in the his past and was abruptly attacked and stabbed to death. Saint Rita was struck with both grief for her beloved husband, and forgiveness for his murders. However, her sons who were now teenagers, desired to avenge their father’s death. What Saint Rita wanted most of all was for her sons to be God-fearing and God-loving, and she knew their harboring of anger and desire to murder were not of God or worthy of Heaven. Firm in her desire to honor God above all else always, this strong woman prayed that God may either take away her sons anger or that He may take away her sons before they committed any mortal sins. God answered her prayers, and both sons died within a year! Now Saint Rita, who was a saintly model wife and mother, found herself widowed and alone again.
Saint Rita spent her days in solitude at home or out in churches praising God for all the blessings He had bestowed upon her, adding in more days of fasting, and fervently asking for intercession from her special patrons: St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine, and St. Nicholas of Tolentine to aid in fitting herself into a state worthy of the religious life which she still so deeply desired. Three times, Saint Rita applied and knocked on the door of the Augustinian convent, but because she was a widower, the prioress of the Maddalena Convent of Cascia said it was impossible. One night at her home, while engaged in deep prayer and meditation, she heard a knock at the door. Finding no one she continued her prayer in refute of the devil, but a second call of “Rita! Rita! Fear not. God will admit you into the cloister to be His spouse.” She responded in fervent prayer with an inflamed heart of divine love. She was immediately wrapped in ecstasy and followed her three patron Saints all the way to the cloistered convent which was all locked, and yet she entered alongside the Saints. They departed from her saying: “Praise God’s infinite mercy, and publish that there is nothing impossible to God. Rita, the impossible is overcome in your behalf”. In the morning, the nuns were stunned to find her in their cloister and upon hearing her story they knew this was of God. Saint Rita entered the convent in a marvelous way, and was absolutely overjoyed to finally be united with Jesus in such an intimate way. She continued to be a model novice and lived on in the convent as her mother had always seen her—a little angel in human form.
This incredible saint deserves her title as the patron saint of the impossible, of lost causes. It’s so easy to feel like a lost cause, to feel helpless, to feel like God is not dealing us the right cards especially if He expects us to respond with the saintly love and virtue that He demands of us. But Saint Rita teaches us to stay close to God. No matter what we are dealt, we can always practice responding with grace, with strength, with the virtues of patience and humility, if only we remain close to Him. When we are able to abandon our control and simply trust God’s plan, to respond in obedience to whatever difficulties He asks of us, to endure suffering—only then are we able to experience the deepest joys of life and the most impressive virtues God so desperately desires to teach us.
Fear not, in all stages of adventurous and unexpected life—wife, mother, widow, nun—God has great plans for us all! St. Rita, pray for us!