St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) is a patron saint of the impossible, difficult, and hopeless causes, distinctly in the realm of marriage, abuse, fertility, parenthood, and disease. Like St. Jude, many turn to St. Rita for her intercession in times of desperation, heartbreak, and disease.
Rita well interpreted the “feminine genius” by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.St. Pope John Paul II
We celebrate the Feast of St. Rita on May 22, though people turn to this saint throughout the year with the Novena to St. Rita (see below). St. Rita is often pictured among roses and bees for the miraculous events of her life.
Table of Contents
- Life of St. Rita of Cascia
- Rose, canonization, and bees
- Centenary – St. Pope John Paul II
- How to Pray the St. Rita Novena
- St. Rita Prayer for Impossible Cases and Special Needs
- More Novenas
Life of St. Rita of Cascia
Many events in her life led St. Rita of Cascia to be called both a saint of the impossible and the “disciple of the Crucified One.”
Born Margherita (Rita) Lotti in Roccaporena, Italy, St. Rita experienced a miracle just a few days after her birth. The day after Rita was baptized, honeybees swarmed her, flying in and out of her mouth without harm. Her family saw this occasion as a sign of blessing and devotion to God.
In her youth, Rita desired to enter the convent, though she was forced into an arranged marriage with a “violent and ill-tempered” man at the age of 12 (Catholic News Agency). Together they had twin sons, and 18 years after they were married, her husband was murdered. Her sons then passed at a young age, and she again desired to enter the Augustinian convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia, Italy. For this reason, she is the patron saint of difficult marriages.
Rita eventually entered the Augustinian convent after appealing to St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo, and Nicholas of Tolentino. Some legends hold that “she was transported into the monastery of Saint Magdalene through levitation at night by the three patron saints she appealed to” (Catholic.org).
In contemplation before an image of Jesus that was very dear to her, the Jesus of Holy Saturday or, as it is also known, the Resurgent Christ, she was moved by a deeper awareness of the physical and spiritual burden of pain which Christ so freely and willingly embraced for love of her and of all humanity. […] Rita was united with Jesus in a profound experience of spiritual intimacy, a thorn from his crown penetrating her forehead. The wound it caused remained open and visible until the day of her death.National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia
Rose, canonization, and bees
St. Rita of Cascia was ill for the final four years of her life and died from tuberculosis in 1456. She lived to be 70 years old.
In the last winter of her life, one of Rita’s cousins came to visit her at the convent and inquired if Rita desired anything. Rita asked her cousin to bring back two figs and a rose from her father’s garden despite it being the middle of winter in Italy. Her cousin miraculously found one rose and two figs and returned to the convent. For this reason, St. Rita is often pictured with roses in art and churches around the world.
While her stigmata wound smelled poorly during her life, it smelled sweet and pleasant after her death; this is one of the miracles that led to her beatification in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. Additionally, a colony of bees appeared in the cell walls monastery where she lived many decades after her death. Some people have reported that the bees exit the walls during Holy Week and return to the monastery on St. Rita’s feast day (May 22) each year.
St. Rita’s body remains incorrupt, venerated at the Basilica of Santa Rita da Cascia in Cascia, Italy. She was canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII.
Centenary – St. Pope John Paul II
On the centenary of her canonization, St. Pope John Paul II called us to consider the message of St. Rita of Cascia: to live humbly and conform our lives to Christ.
“But what is the message that this saint passes on to us? It is a message that flows from her life: humility and obedience were the path that Rita took to be ever more perfectly conformed to the Crucified One. The mark which shines on her forehead is the verification of her Christian maturity. On the Cross with Jesus, she is crowned in a certain way with the love that she knew and heroically expressed within her home and by her participation in the events of her town.”
St. Pope John Paul II
He also encouraged us to consider the rose of St. Rita’s last winter as a symbol for living life attuned to Christ:
It is to be hoped that the life of everyone devoted to her will be like the rose picked in the garden of Roccaporena the winter before the saint’s death. That is, let it be a life sustained by passionate love for the Lord Jesus; a life capable of responding to suffering and to thorns with forgiveness and the total gift of self, in order to spread everywhere the good odour of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:15) through a consistently lived proclamation of the Gospel.St. Pope John Paul II
How to Pray the St. Rita Novena
Time needed: 5 minutes
Many turn to St. Rita for her intercession — her guidance to help us turn to God — in times of desperation, heartbreak, and disease.
- Take a moment to quiet your mind and rest in His peace.
Imagine yourself among blooming, fragrant roses in honor of St. Rita.
- Begin by making the Sign of the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
- Pray the St. Rita Novena prayer.
“O God, in your infinite tenderness you have been pleased to regard the prayer of your servant Rita, and to grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill, and effort, as rewards for her compassionate love and firm reliance on your promises. Have pity on us in times of adversities and comfort us in our calamities, that even the unbelievers may know that you are the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in you. Grant this in the Name of Jesus the Lord.” (Source: novenaprayer.com)
- Pray the Our Father.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
- Pray the Hail Mary.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
- Pray the Glory Be.
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end
- Recall your intercessory intentions.
Give all of your prayers to Him and ask St. Rita again to guide you in doing so.
- Conclude with the Sign of the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
St. Rita Prayer for Impossible Cases
“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 always 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 thee grant that [here mention your petition]. Pray for us, O holy St. Rita, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”