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Saint Rita

Example of a woman for women

Margherita Lotti was born in Roccaporena in 1381 into a family of great faith, from which she learnt two concepts that would be fundamental in her life: violence is never the solution to conflicts and we can all, if we wish, become instruments of peace. Already the marriage highlights Rita’s docility who, with her kind and charitable ways, succeeds in changing her husband’s violent character for the benefit of their family. Later, with the killing of her husband, this woman’s propensity for peace and love becomes even more evident. Rita, in fact, although she recognised her husband’s murderers, in order to avoid the perpetuation of hatred and that her children might stain their souls to avenge their father, decided not to reveal their names. This episode also highlights Rita’s extreme trust in God. She is aware that only with His help can she save her children and she entrusts them to Him. The twins soon die of illness and Rita sees in this a sign of love from the Father who did not allow the perdition of those two souls.

Rita, left without her family, did not fall prey to despair, but continued to ‘fight’ hatred with the strength of prayer and love for Jesus, until she decided to enter the Augustinian monastery of Cascia where she lived serving others until her death on 22 May 1457.

In 1900 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed her a saint, and today we can consider her, in the ranks of the saints, one of the most invoked. But why?

Probably because having been a woman, wife, mother, widow and nun, she represents an example for all those who face difficulties in their lives every day. In this regard, I report the testimony of some women, members of the ‘Pia Unione Primaria’, whom I asked what Saint Rita represents in their being a woman and mother.

Angela testifies that, in her being a mother, she has as an example the unconditional love that Saint Rita knew how to give to her husband and children, living her faith in God with a charitable attitude, practising it in the family without feeling diminished, but feeling strong in Him. Saint Rita is an example of a true woman and mother who shows us how to face life, with our heads held high and without getting down because, for better or for worse, with the strength of prayer, we always have God beside us.

Valeria recounts that she grew up in devotion to Saint Rita because from birth her mother entrusted her to her holy protection. Like Saint Rita, she managed to build a healthy, joyful family, united by love. This serenity was shattered by the illness of her second son, who fell ill as soon as he was born. The illness was faced with the pain that only a mother knows, the same pain that Rita also experienced, but like her with a total reliance on God with an intimate, profound and shouted prayer for the impelling need for help. The child was operated on 21 May, the eve of Saint Rita’s feast day, and today is a boy full of life and health. This experience left an awareness that, as Saint Rita also teaches, nothing can be faced without God, the only hope and only strength.

Marilena in her being a woman and mother tries to keep Saint Rita’s courage in mind, especially her fight to defend the family.

Aurora is a nurse. For her, Saint Rita is a refuge where through prayer she finds peace, serenity, strength and help. In her work she holds Saint Rita’s dedication to caring for others as an example, and in difficult situations she invokes her to find support. In the suffering of others and in her fear for the little patients with prayer, made out of faith and despair, fears and anxieties become courage, in the knowledge that she is not alone.

In these stories we see that for women, in Antonella’s words, ‘Saint Rita is an example of love. A pure, fighting love, which in dark moments becomes light. A love that is trust, total abandonment to the One she has always loved’.

Her thorn, which represents everyone’s pain, is not suffering but becomes an instrument of closeness and participation in Christ’s pain, and is the certainty that any situation in life, even a painful one, can be crossed if Jesus is with us.

Looking at the Crucifix allows us to see, as it was for Saint Rita, the joy of eternal life and the certainty that God is “the hope that does not disappoint”.

Ersilia Nastasi

Lay Canossian


  • Ersilia Nastasi


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