Rita The Nun

After the murder of her husband and the tragic death of her two sons, Rita takes refuge in prayer. It must have been at this time that she developed her strong desire to raise her love to another level, to another spouse: Christ.

At the age of around 36, Rita knocks on the door of the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. Having overcome her many difficulties with the help of prayer to her three protectors St. Augustine, St. Nicholas of Tolentino and St. John the Baptist, she finally crowns her desire.

In around 1407, she begins her new life in the Monasteryof St. Mary Magdalene. Here she receives the habit and the Rule of St. Augustine, which she professes and lives her forty years of service in the Monastery until her death.

Asceticism, contemplation, prayer, penance, but also action were definitely the principles of the forty years of cloistered life of Saint Rita of Cascia.

It is said that during her novitiate period, the Mother Abbess ordered Sister Rita to plant and water a dry piece of wood to test her humility.
The Saint obeys without hesitation, and the Lord rewards his servant with the blossom of a
vigorous vine.
For this reason, the vine is the symbol of the patience, humility and love of Rita towards her sisters and, more generally, towards others. Even today, for all faithful, the testimony of this miracle is the vine of Saint Rita. What can be seen today in the cloister of the Monastery is not the same as the tradition, it goes back more than two hundred years. Nevertheless, it continues to represent its strong symbolic value.

Following the example of her parents, Rita works as a peacemaker. One day, an event shakes Cascia and certainly does not leave Rita indifferent. In 1426, a real battle breaks out between supporters of the Bernardinian tablet (with the YHS inscription used to indicate Jesus the Saviour of men) and the Dominicans united with the Augustinians, headed by the theologian monk Andrea, who were opposed to them.The Augustinian Order completes the Bernardinian inscription with the XPS (= Christ) monogram; doing so would have highlighted the two inseparable natures of the Saviour: the human and the divine. Unfortunately, the tension degenerates into a series of crimes, for which the Saint certainly did her utmost to restore peace. It is no coincidence that her solemn sarcophagus - now preserved in the cell of Saint Rita - carries both the Bernardinian formula YHS and that introduced by the Augustinians as XPS.

The epitaph on the solemn sarcophagus reads: XV years suffered the thorn. After having gone through grief over the death of her loved ones, inside the walls of the Monastery, Rita raises her pain to the suffering of Christ for humanity: as a token of love, she asks and obtains from the Beloved to share even more in His suffering. The year is 1432. One day while at prayer, perhaps mindful of the preaching on the Passion of Christ by Friar James of the Marches in 1425 in the church of Saint Mary and, more importantly, trained in Augustinian spirituality centred on Christ’s love for humanity (which finds its highest form of expression in the Passion), she asks the Lord to make her part of his sufferings. We do not know what happened in that moment, a light, a flash, a thorn detached from the Crucifix penetrates her forehead and soul.

During this period, Rita makes the only journey of her life outside the boundaries of Cascia; she makes a penitential walkon pilgrimage to Rome. Tradition connects the journey to thecanonisation of Nicholas of Tolentino in 1446. For the occasion, the wound on Rita's forehead heals before leaving and then reopens on her return to Cascia.

Even today, visitors to the Monastery can see what, according to tradition, is the Christ of the miracle. It is not certain whether it really happened or not there, but the substance of fact, historically proven, indisputably remains the same; indeed, perhaps the desire to place the miracle before a painted crucifix excludes any natural traumatic cause. Rita certainly experienced this gift with great humility, without ever boasting, saying little of her injury and presenting it as such: a wound.

Immediately after her death, Rita starts being worshiped as the protector from the plague, probably due to the fact that in life, Sister Rita Lotti dedicated herself to the care of plague victims without ever contracting this disease. This is what gave rise to her attribution as the saint of impossible cases.

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