Nearly every stage of her life was marked by suffering and loss, but Rita never lost her faith and trust in God. Because of this faithfulness, she is the patron saint of desperate causes.
Rita was born to aged parents in 1381 in Italy. She was a pious child, and wanted to devote herself to a religious life, but her parents arranged a marriage for her. She obeyed, but suffered greatly because her husband was abusive.
She bore twins, and the two boys also suffered under her husband until he was killed by a different family in an honor killing. After her two sons died of illness, Rita applied to enter a convent.
Because some of the sisters in the convent were related to the family that killed her husband, she was denied entry. She persisted in asking to join the community, however, and eventually was accepted.
As a religious, she gave all of her energies to devotional practices and prayer. From her childhood, Rita was devoted to the passion and suffering of Jesus. She received a special form of the stigmata when a wound opened on her forehead similar to what would have resulted from the crown of thorns Jesus wore. The wound caused her to be secluded, and she suffered from it for 15 years until her death. The last four years of her life were marked by illness and she died on this date in 1457.
In modern times, her body was discovered to have remained incorrupt, and some of her relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica. Her bust, pictured here, stands in the offices of Campus Ministry for the University.
St. Rita, you who are patron saint of the impossible and the advocate of desperate cases, pray for us!