Saint Rita was born Margherita Lotti in 1381, in Central Italy. She was very religious from an early age, and her only ambition was to enter a convent. However, her parents arranged a marriage for her to an older man. Rita was very unhappy in her marriage, as her new husband was a violent man. The future saint was a mother by twelve, and had to endure regular physical abuse during her years of marriage.
Her husband was killed in a feud with another family. Rita, as a good Christian, forgave her husband’s killers. However, her husband’s family continued with the feud, and encouraged her sons to avenge their father’s death. Saint Rita prayed that her sons would not lose their souls by becoming murderers. Both of her sons died before they could kill their father’s killers, and their souls were not damned by the mortal sin of murder.
Following the deaths of her sons, Rita attempted to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cascia, but she was not allowed to join because of her husband’s family's violent reputation. The convent told her that she could only join the convent if she ended the family feud that killed her husband.
St. Rita urged both families to end the feud, and warned them that they faced the wrath of God if they did not end the violence. Shortly afterwards, there was an outbreak of plague, and members of both families decided to end the feud. Many credited Rita with ending the feud, and the convent saw this as a sign from God that she should join the order. She later took the vows of a nun.
While at the monastery, Rita performed her duties faithfully, and received the sacraments frequently. At the age of sixty, she developed the stigmata. It caused her great suffering, but she rejoiced in being able to suffer like Our Lord.
St. Rita soon became famous far and wide for her piety and her stigmata, and many visited her seeking her blessing.
At the age of sixty, she developed tuberculosis, but she welcomed death since it would bring her nearer to Christ. She died in 1457.
Following her death, she was buried, but it was later discovered that her body had not been corrupted. Rita was canonized in 1900.
St. Rita has been associated with many miracles. Once, the infant Rita was surrounded by a swarm of white bees, which went in and out of her infant mouth without stinging her. As she lay dying, Rita asked a nun who had come to visit for a rose from the convent garden. Somce it was January, the nun did not expect to find any roses, but to her astonishment, there was a single rose in bloom in the convent garden. The rose was brought back to Rita in her room. Many people who have prayed to St. Rita have reported miracles through the centuries.
St. Rita believed that a Christian should suffer like Christ in order to be saved:
“Please let me suffer like you, Divine Savior.”
St. Rita’s story and miracles continue to strengthen the faith of Catholics around the world.