St. Rita of Cascia

Feast Day May 22nd

Patron Saint of lost or impossible causes, difficult marriages, infertility, and parenthood

Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow, and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.

In 1381 in a humble peasant home at Rocca Porena, central Italy, there was born a little girl who was to attain a reputation for great holiness on account of her mystical transports, her austerities, and her long-suffering patience in meeting affliction. Rita, the child of her parents’ old age, in youth demonstrated a strong religious sense. When the time came for marriage, her parents forced her to marry an unsuitable person, in spite of her desire to enter a convent. Rita submitted sorrowfully, and the marriage proved to be one long torment. Rita’s husband was brutal, dissolute, and uncontrolled; for eighteen years she bore his insults and infidelities. With anguish she watched the two sons of this union grow up in the likeness of their father. She wept and prayed for them all three without ceasing. At last her husband came to a realization of his sinful life, and begged Rita to forgive him for what he had made her suffer. Soon after this he was killed in a brawl, and the sons vowed to avenge their father’s death. Rita prayed that they might die rather than commit murder. Then they both fell ill, and their mother nursed them and brought them to a more forgiving state before they too died.

Left alone, Rita now began to practice unusual austerities. She finally gained admission to the Augustinian convent of Cascia, persuading the prioress to overlook the rule that allowed her to accept only virgins. In 1413 Rita received the habit of the order. Her charity found an outlet in caring tenderly for other nuns in times of illness. The contemplation of Christ’s sufferings would send her into ecstatic transports. A suppurating wound on her forehead seemed to be connected with her intense response to a sermon on the Crown of Thorns, an emblem which had especial significance for her. During her later years Rita suffered from a wasting disease, which was the cause of her death, on May 22, 1457. The first life of this saint was written in 1600. She was canonized in 1900. Rita is joint patroness of a sodality which exists to venerate the crown of thorns.

The old tradition that associates roses and figs with Rita has the following origin. Shortly before her death she asked a friend to bring her a rose from her garden at home. It was not the season for roses to bloom, but to gratify the whim of a woman who was desperately ill, the friend went there and was amazed to find a rose bush in full bloom. Picking a rose and taking it back to the convent, she asked Rita if she could get her something else. “Yes,” was the answer; “bring me back two figs from the garden.” The friend hastened away to the garden once more and discovered two ripe figs on a leafless fig tree. Rita is sometimes represented in art as holding these emblems. St. Rita of Cascia is especially venerated in Spain, and there and elsewhere she has been called “the saint of the impossible.” In all countries persons who have especially heavy burdens to bear have been comforted and helped by meditating on the example of this saint, and praying to her.


Intercessory Prayers to St. Rita of Cascia

O God, Who bestowed in St. Rita such grace that she loved her enemies, and bore in her heart and on her forehead the mark of Your love and Passion, grant us, we beseech You, through her merits and intercession, a love for our enemies. Through our contemplation of Your sufferings and Passion, may we merit the reward promised to the meek and the suffering. You live and reign forever.


Glorious St. Rita, patroness of those in need, your intercession with our Lord is most powerful. Through the favors obtained by your prayers, you have been called Advocate of hopeless and even impossible cases. St. Rita, humble and pure, patient and compassionate love of Christ Crucified! We have confidence that everyone who has recourse to you will find comfort and relief. Listen to our petitions and show your power with God in our behalf. Obtain our petitions for us, if they are for the greater honor of God, and for our good. We promise, if our petitions are granted, to make known your favor, and to glorify God for His gift.

Pray for us, St. Rita, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.