The Feast of Possibilities: Happy Day, St. Rita!
St. Rita: The Saint of the Impossible
23 May • Paróquia De Santa Rita Itaperuna, Pascom De Fátima Italpaucu, Brazil
There are 4 Patron Saints of the Impossible in our Catholic Church: St. Jude, St. Gregory, St. Philomena, and - as we celebrated yesterday- St. Rita of Cascia! Indirectly, she and St. Vincent hold something in common: Cascia, located in Italy’s Umbrian countryside, is 5 miles- or 8km- from San Giorgio; where our holy Founder’s father was born. Even today, the connection remains; our Fathers run the parish in the town of Pietro Paolo Pallotti, as well as administer confession in the Basilica of St. Rita.
And while the Society’s presence is there physically, so, too, is it there spiritually; particularly in Rio di Janerio. At the Paróquia De Santa Rita Itaperuna they held a procession and Mass with her relic, and at Pascom De Fátima Italpaucu, there was a Triduum in her honor.
Indeed, the life of St. Rita proves Pallotti’s words to be ever true; “remember, God is found in suffering.” From her youth, she desired a religious life, though obediently obeyed her parents when they married her to Paolo Mancini for what they hoped to be a secure future for their only daughter. Yet soon thereafter, her husband was tragically murdered while her two sons were still just boys. Afraid they would wish to seek vengeance- as was custom in the 1600s-, she prayed fervently that their souls not be stained. When they succumbed to dysentery one year later, pious Catholics believe this to be an answer to her prayer.
Following these tragedies, she sought life where her heart had always desired, at the St. Mary Magdalene Monastery. Upon first try, she was denied; upon second try, she was denied yet again, as the rival family who killed her husband were in the convent. Inspired to make peace amongst families, she herself did the impossible between them both, and was permitted entrance on her third attempt.
15 years before her death, in a deep and mystical moment of prayer, she asked Jesus to receive part of His suffering. He granted her request, and in turn, had an open wound from the Crown of Thorns on her forehead for the rest of her life.
Soon before her death, a relative asked if there was anything she wished for from her hometown before his visit. She asked simply for a rose; though there was a catch. It was January, surely such a feat would not be possible. Yet there in the snow covered garden, in Umbria’s rolling hills, was a single rose.
And so as St. Vincent Pallotti says, “the surest way to the Kingdom of Heaven is the road of tribulations trodden with the Lord.”
1. Paróquia De Santa Rita Itaperuna
2. Pascom De Fátima Italpaucu