St. Rita of Cascia
Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child. They brought Rita up well. Rita wanted to enter the convent when she was fifteen, but her parents decided that she should marry instead. The man they chose for Rita turned out to be a mean and unfaithful husband. He had such a violent temper that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of him. Yet, for eighteen years, his wife patiently took all his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her and he returned to God.
Rita's happiness over her husband's conversion did not last long. One day, shortly after, he was murdered. Rita was shocked and heart-broken. But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her two sons forgive them, too. She saw that the boys, instead, were determined to avenge their father's death. Rita prayed that they would die rather than commit murder. Within several months, both boys became seriously ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she pursuaded them to forgive, and to ask God's forgiveness for themselves. They did and both died peacefully.
Now her husband and her children were dead. Left alone in the world, Rita tried three times to enter the convent in Cascia. The rules of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join even if her husband had died. Rita did not give up, however. At last, the nuns made an exception for her. In the convent, Rita was outstanding for her obedience and charity. She had great devotion to the crucified Jesus. Once, while praying, she asked him to let her share some of his pain. One thorn from his crown of thorns pierced her forehead and made a sore that never healed. In fact, it grew so bad and gave off such an odor that St. Rita had to stay away from the others. She was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus.
St. Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like St. Jude, St. Rita is often called "Saint of the Impossible."
Today in prayer, we can pray for people who are not living close to God.