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.
Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.
Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ's crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ's passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counselled lay people who came to her monastery.
Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St. Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.
I love people like St Rita, who came up against seemingly impossible odds, and just got on with it. It is so encouraging to think of her when things seem to be just wrong, when it is so easy to imagine an ideal world in which to live out our calling, a world so different from the one in which we seem trapped by some malignity of fate. But that world does not exist. An "If only" approach to holiness never quite gets underway, never produces the fruit that God longs for in us, and that we know, somewhere deep down, is the only thing that will ever finally satisfy us.
Rita became holy because she made choices that reflected her Baptism and her growth as a disciple of Jesus. Her overarching, lifelong choice was to cooperate generously with God's grace, but many small choices were needed to make that happen; and few of those choices seem to have made in ideal circumstances - not even when Rita had become an Augustinian nun...
This account of her life is derived from the entry at Saint of the Day