St. Rita of Cascia
Died: May 22, 1457
Canonized: May 24, 1900, by Pope Leo XIII
Feast Day: May 22
Patron Saint of: impossible cases
Despite her marriage being arranged against her wishes at the tender age of 12, Rita remained loyal to her spouse for the entire 18 years of their marriage. Rita was also a devoted mother of two boys. Rita's religious and spiritual convictions so frustrated and angered her husband that he often flew off in a fit of rage, beating and abusing her. Sixteen years into their marriage, her consistency and persistence finally had their toll - she converted her husband her her way of life; but two years later he was murdered, in what was believed to be a politically motivated assassination. Knowing this, Rita's two boys immediately began to scheme to avenge their father's murder. Rita exhausted all efforts to convince her boys not to go forward with their plans, but she did not succeed. Fearing for her boys' souls, as a last resort, she prayed for their death before they could carry out their plans. Her prayers were answered. After losing her entire family, Rita asked to join the local convent in Cascia but she was turned down, as widows were not allowed to enter. Unswayed by her failed attempt, her prayers were again answered, this time in grand fashion. Saints Augustine of Hippo, John the Baptist and Nicholas of Tolentino accompanied her on a journey to the Augustinian Convent Santa Maria Maddalena. When the party arrived, they found, as was the practice for the convent, that the entry way securely locked. Proving no challenge for this saintly crew, Rita was found the next morning praying in the convent's chapel. Realizing that greater powers than just Rita were at work here, the convent waived the non-admittance of widows and allowed Rita to join the convent. During the remaining years of her life, this future saint prayed to join with Jesus in His suffering and was given the stigmata gift of a thorn in the forehead. Although the thorn itself was not visible to anyone but Rita, the wound certainly was. This wound remained with her for the rest of her life, festering and exuding a horrible smell for some 15 years. The stench was so extreme that she became a recluse within the convent. At the time of her nearing death, it was reported by several witnesses that the smell turned from revolting to a sweet, pleasant odor. And at the moment of her death, a bright light, the source of which was the wound in her forehead, filled the room.