S. Rita

SAINT RITA of Cascia
SAINT RITA of Cascia

Rita (Margherita Lotti) was born in 1381 in the city of Rocaporena of Cascia (Umbria Italy). Her parents, Antonio and Amata Ferri Lotti, were known to be noble, and charitable persons, who gained the epithet Conciliatore di Cristo (Peacemakers of Christ). Rita was married at the age of twelve to a nobleman named Paolo Mancini. Her parents arranged her marriage, a common practice at the time, despite her repeated requests to be allowed to enter a convent of religious sisters.

Her marriage lasted eighteen years, during which she is remembered for her Christian values as a model wife and mother who made many efforts to convert her husband from his abusive behavior, specifically to help him to renounce a family feud known at the time as La Vendetta. Rita eventually bore two sons, Giangiacomo Antonio, and Paulo Maria, and brought them up in the Christian faith. As time went by and the family feud between the Chiqui and Mancini families became more intense, Paolo Mancini gradually detached himself from his past lifestyle, but his allies betrayed him and he was violently stabbed to death by Guido Chiqui, a member of the feuding family.

Rita gave a public pardon at Paolo's funeral to her husband's murderers. However, Paolo Mancini's brother, Bernardo, continued the feud and hoped to convince Rita's sons to seek revenge. Rita, fearing that her sons would lose their souls, tried to dissuade them from retaliating, but to no avail. She, then, asked God to remove her sons from the cycle of vendettas and prevent mortal sin and murder. Her sons died of dysentery a year later, which pious Catholics believe was God's answer to her prayer, taking them by natural death rather than having them committing a mortal sin, punishable by Hell.

After the deaths of her husband and sons, Rita desired to enter the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia. She was given a condition in order to enter the convent: the task of reconciling her family with her husband's murderers. She implored her three patron saints (John the Baptist, Augustine of Hippo, and Nicholas of Tolentino) to assist her in establishing peace between the hostile parties of Cascia. A bubonic plague, which ravaged Italy at the time, infected Bernardo Mancini, causing him to stop desiring revenge against the Chiqui family. God heard her prayer, and brought peace between the two families, thus allowing Rita entering the monastery.

Pious Catholic legends recount that Rita later was transported into the monastery of Saint Magdalene via levitation at night into the garden courtyard by her three patron saints. She remained at the monastery, living by the Augustinian Rule, until her death on May 22nd, 1457.