Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Santa Rita of Cascia

When I entered our neighborhood church in Italy, for the very first time, I was drawn to a statue,which is rather hidden from view, unless one enters through the far right door. She sits protected and dimly lit on a stand directly behind a wide pillar. In front of her is an array of small electric candles. Primo gave me permission to take her picture one day and told me her name: Santa Rita, saint for all things impossible. Recently I discovered she is also the saint for battered women and illness.

I was fortunate to be home in Italy on May 12 to celebrate Santa Rita's "Feast" day. Marina told me one afternoon we needed to hurry to be on time to attend special services in a very ancient church, which had been opened especially for the occasion. I wasn't sure what was being celebrated, but I'm always ready to follow Marina to church.

When we arrived, the tiny chapel was overflowing, with people hovering outside on the front steps. There was standing room only inside. Marina motioned for me to enter by myself. I squeezed through saying, mi scusi, mi scusi. It was a most amazing sight inside.

The church was packed with women, each carrying bunches of roses or flowers. The bouquets varied in their presentation. Many of the offerings were wrapped in simple newspaper or cellophane. The smell of flowers, mixed with perhaps incense, created an atmosphere of innocent sweetness. I felt like I had been transported to a higher plane. After the mass each woman approached the alter to leave their colorful offerings. Marina patiently waited for me. I was one of the very last to leave.

That evening I accompanied Primo and Marina to our main church for mass. The small statue of Santa Maria had been moved out of the shadows to a central place of honor. She was surrounded by hundreds of yellow long stemmed roses in baskets.

Primo told me the roses had been blessed and they were as if Santa Rita herself had touched them. I took a rose and Marina choose one for Nonna. My yellow rose has faded and disintegrated to brown pedals now, but I have a picture of Nonna, holding her fresh rose.

In Firenze I discovered Santa Rita inside Chiesa Santo Spirito. I last visited with her in June, while trying adjust to Leo's illness. There's a little gate to get into her alcove but I never feel awkward purchasing a candle for lighting, then entering the gated area.

I always feel calmer after visiting with her for a few minutes.

I've researched on the Catholic website and discovered this:

Santa Rita's dates are medieval, 1381-1457, but her canonization modern, 1900.

Patron Of: Infertility, Healing Of Wounds, Loneliness, Tumors, Difficult Marriages, Sick, Sickness, Widows, Desperation, Impossible Situations, Abuse Victims, Sterility, Bodily Ills, Desperate Causes, Forgotten Causes, Lost Causes, Against Loneliness, Parenthood, Victims of physical spouse abuse, Wounds

Prayers to Saint Rita:

Dear Rita, model Wife and Widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of {name of sufferer}. To God, all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen.


O santa Rita, noi ammiriamo il tuo coraggio e la tua costanza nel imitare Gesù nella testimonianza della fede e della carità, sia assolvendo fedelmente i tuoi impegni quotidiani sia affrontando con fede e speranza anche le situazioni più difficili; e sentiamo vergogna per le nostre frequenti incertezze, per la nostra pigrizia e per la nostra incoerenza: aiutaci a diventare pienamente responsabili del dono della fede e quindi ad operare sempre il bene con lo spirito cristiano, affinchè il nostro prossimo possa più facilmente unirsi a noi nel lodare il Padre. Amen.
Padre nostro. . . Ave Maria. . . Gloria al Padre. .

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