The small Sacrifices

What interpretation should we give to the “small sacrifices”? We have already said that their purpose is uplifting; that is, those who read them must obtain incentives for living Christianity better; they should therefore be taken into account.

We would like to note, however, that literature on small sacrifices is not just from the Middle Ages; we can find it in all historical periods. We find it even in our day and age, more sensitive to the problems of science, more cunning and less attentive to the wonderful world of "small sacrifices".

The historical novels that fill our libraries are based on imaginative facts, fictionalised stories revolving around a historical fact.

Are not our open-eyed dreams, the hopes that nourish our lives, ways in which we imagine future reality, to remove it from prevailing evil? Woe to that man and that woman who do not dream of a future that is better than what they are experiencing!

A striking example of this is the creative and dreamy love of the father and mother that "think the world" of their children. We have used the verb "to think the world", which really means "to see beyond reality". For all parents, their children are always the best, even if, at times, history says otherwise; but this is a good thing.

As well as being passion and motivation, love is the creative “strength” inside each person, ready to explode at the right moment. One thinks especially about the heart of a mother.

It is in this spirit, therefore, that we interpret the “small sacrifices” that the love of the people has invented for its saints; in our case, for Saint Rita.

Thus the vine, which sprouted from a dry stick, showed the virtue of obedience, which is an act of love, in response to the test that God, through the Abbess, had submitted her to.

The bees flying around Rita in the crib are a sign of sweetness, of the delicacy that Rita was to show during the course of her life.

The secret dream of Rita as a little girl to consecrate herself to the Lord and the intention of her parents to find a young man with whom to form a Christian family, are a sign of the love of God and of the neighbour, the precept that sums up the whole of Christianity.

The tradition, presenting the young groom as arrogant and violent, just makes us want to emphasise the patience, spirit of tolerance and love that Rita the spouse showed towards her partner.

Rita’s other extraordinary small sacrifice, after being left alone after the death of her husband and two sons, is her flight from the rock of Roccaporena to the Augustinian Monastery in Cascia, aided by her protectors St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, which is intended to show her great desire to devote herself completely to God, according to the image of love that St. Augustine gives: “Love is the foot and the hand of the soul": the foot because it runs ahead, the hand because the person who loves identifies with the beloved object, possesses it, seizes it.

There is also the small sacrifice of the rose and the figs: Seriously ill in the winter before she died, Rita asked a relative who had gone to visit her to fetch a rose and some figs from her garden in Roccaporena; she found them and took them to Rita, who interpreted them as a sign of the goodness of God, who had welcomed her two sons and husband into heaven.

The "small sacrifices" are not fairy tales for children, but facts which, although intensified by the strong aura of holiness, are rooted in history.

Rita is a worthy protagonist of them. She who in life was considered by the people of Cascia as a saint, so much so that it is said that on her death the bells started ringing on their own, and the iconography of the period shows her with a halo, is also a historical figure, just as her holiness is historical.

That said, everything can be said about a saint. Who are the saints? They are those whose life has embodied the spirit of the Gospel, have lived fully the love of God and their neighbour, have practised all the virtues, and have been men and women of God. So this is sufficient to give a historical basis to the extraordinary facts that are attributed to them.