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Saint Rita of Corsica

Saint Rita of Corsica
  • Century: 14th & 15th Century
  • Patronage: Impossible Causes, Sickness, Wounds, Marital Problems, Abuse, Mothers
  • Feast Day: May 22nd

St. Rita of Corsica was born in 1381, and was an Italian Augustinian Nun.  She also was a widow.  She was married at an early age, and the marriage lasted for 18 years.  She is remembered for her Christian values as a model wife and mother, who made efforts to convert her husband from his abusive behavior.  A neighboring feuding family murdered her husband, and she worked hard to dissuade her sons from revenge before their deaths.  She joined an Augustinian community of Religious Sisters, where she was known for practicing mortification of the flesh, along with prayer.  St. Rita is venerated as well, due to various miracles attributed to her intercession, and is often portrayed with a bleeding wound on her forehead, due to partial stigmata. 

She was born Margherita, and at the time of her birth her parents were known to be noble and charitable people.  Her parents arranged for her to marry at age 12, to a nobleman named Paolo Mancini.  Arranged marriages were common in her time, and she had her first child at the age of twelve.  Paolo was known to be quick tempered, an immoral man, who had many enemies in the region of Cascia.  Rita endured his insults, physical abuse, and infidelities for many years.  Through humility, kindness and patience, she was able to convert her husband into a better person. 

There was a family feud known at that time as a Vendetta.  Rita bore two sons, Giovanni, and Paulo Maria, bringing them up in the Christian faith.  The vendetta was between the Chiqui and Mancini families.  As it became more intense, Rita’s husband became allies with them, but they betrayed him and violently stabbed him to death.  Her brother-in-law had hopes of convincing Rita’s sons to seek revenge, but Rita gave a public pardon at Paolo’s funeral to her husband’s murders.  Bernard his brother, convinced the boys to seek revenge as they grew older and moved out.  Rita feared for her son’s souls, and tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail.  Her sons died of dysentery a year later, which Rita believed was God’s act to them by natural death rather than risk them committing a mortal sin punishable by hell. 

After the deaths of her husband and sons, Rita desired to enter the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia, but was turned away.  The Nuns were afraid of being associated with the scandal of her husband’s violent death.  Rita persisted, and was given a condition before the convent could accept her – the difficult task of reconciling her family with her husband’s murderers, a public act that ideally nullified the conflict.  She was able to resolve the conflict and was allowed to enter the monastery at the age of 36.  She did this by imploring three patron saints, John the Baptist, Augustine of Hippo and Nicholas of Tolentino.  She remained at the monastery as an Augustinian Nun until her death on May 22, 1457.  Pope Urban VIII beatified her in 1626, and Pope Leo XIII canonized her on May 24, 1900.  Her body has been exhumed and to this day, remains incorrupt, with many pilgrims coming to visit her tomb each year at the Shrine of St. Rita in Cascia. 

One day when she was 36, she was mediating before an image of Christ crucified.  Suddenly a small wound appeared on her forehead, as though a thorn from the crown of Christ’s head had penetrated her flesh.  For the next 15 years, she bore this external sign of the stigmata.  Another story is when Rita was bedridden at the convent towards the end of her life. Her cousin asked if she would like anything from her old home, and Rita asked for a rose from the garden.  It was in January and roses didn’t grow that time of year.  Her cousin went and found a single rose growing from the garden.  St. Rita is often portrayed holding a single rose. 

Practical Take Away

St. Rita of Corsica was born in 1381, and was an Italian Augustinian Nun.  She also was a widow.  She was married at an early age of twelve, in an arranged marriage.  She is remembered for her Christian values as a model wife and mother, who made efforts to convert her husband from his abusive behavior.  A neighboring feuding family murdered her husband, and she worked hard to dissuade her sons from revenge before their natural deaths, in an attempt to save their souls.  She joined an Augustinian community of Religious Sisters, where she was known for practicing mortification of the flesh, along with prayer.  St. Rita is venerated as well, due to various miracles attributed to her intercession, and is often portrayed with a bleeding wound on her forehead, due to partial stigmata.  Her body is on display to this day and is incorrupt.