|Santa Rita souvenirs.|
|Santa Rita (note roses, bees and forehead wound).|
Rita lies in state in Cascia, but was born in another village nearly, Roccaporena, where there's also a much-visited pilgrimage site. This is not surprising, as an Italian Wiki site tells us that Santa Rita's attributes are that she is the Saint of the Impossible, the Advocate of Hopeless Causes, and the Patron Saint of unhappily married women, desperate and seemingly impossible cases, and protector of screen printers. (I have no idea why the screen printers adopted her).
Santa Rita grew to young womanhood, very pious, but was married off to a tyrannical nobleman who was not a good husband (“insults, physical abuse and infidelities”, says Wiki). That’s why she’s the right saint for abused wives. Despite her best efforts he was difficult to convert, especially when it came to a feud with another local family of nobles. Eventually he was killed in this pointless cause, and Santa Rita had no end of trouble keeping her sons out of the feud too. They both died of dysentery, which was possibly Divine Act to keep them out of the trouble.
|Santa Rita's modern basilica in Cascia.|
Another was to plant and water a dead stick of grape vine, which Santa Rita also did, tending it for ages until - miraculously! - it sprouted and even produced grapes. The wine made from them was sent to the Pope to use in the Vatican. Not only that, but some say that this vine is still growing today, and still producing.
Santa Rita became a devout nun, and was even said to practice self-flagellation. In any event, possibly because she prayed so intently before a crucifix (her ‘ecstasy’), she was smitten with a sore on her forehead, as if a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorns had fallen and pierced her. This remained a suppurating wound for 15 years, until the day when she finally met the Pope, at which point it cleared up. That’s why effigies of Santa Rita have a red spot on their foreheads.
|This way to Santa Rita: Cascia.|
|Santa Rita souvenir: rose, bee, portrait.|
If you’d like to know more about this, frankly, weird phenomenon, it is time for Wiki:
In Roman Catholicism, if a body remains incorruptible after death, this is generally seen as a sign that the individual is a saint. Not every saint, however, is expected to have an incorruptible corpse. Although incorruptibility is recognized as supernatural, it is no longer counted as a miracle in the recognition of a saint.This slightly spooky site (in Spanish) has more info, and pictures.
Embalmed bodies were not recognized as incorruptibles. For example, while the body of Pope John XXIII remained in a remarkably intact state after its exhumation, Church officials quickly remarked that the body had been embalmed and additionally there was a lack of oxygen in his sealed triple coffin.
Incorruptibility is seen as distinct from the good preservation of a body, or from mummification. Incorruptible bodies are often said to have the odor of sanctity, exuding a sweet or floral, pleasant aroma.
The Catholic church has a very rich tradition that clearly fills the lives of its followers with much that they love and revere. And it must be good to know that there’s an intermediary to visit when you’re beset with a hopeless cause.
Footnote: In 2007, Santa Rita's life (loosely) inspired a movie, particularly about her early experiences. It seems a little pointless to object that the story line seems to deviate a lots from the, er, 'truth'. It's had good reviews and you can buy your own copy on Amazon.
And the move tagline says...
"No Cause is Ever Lost..."