On May 22, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Rita of Cascia, who the late John Paul II called “a disciple of the Crucified One” and an “expert in suffering.”Known in Spain as “La Santa de los impossibiles” (the saint of the impossible), St. Rita has become immensely popular throughout the centuries. She is invoked by people in all situations and stations of life, since she had embraced suffering with charity and wrongs with forgiveness in the many trials she experienced in her life: as a wife, widow, a mother surviving the death of her children, and a nun.
Born in 1386 in Roccaparena, Umbria, St. Rita was married at the age of 12 to a violent and ill-tempered husband. He was murdered 18 years later and she forgave his murderers, praying that her twin sons, who had sworn to avenge their father’s death may also forgive. She was granted this grace, and her sons, who died young, died reconciled to God.
The saint heard the call to become a nun in the Augustinian convent at Cascia, but was refused entry at first. She asked the intercession of Sts. Augustine, Mary Magadalene and John the Baptist and was finally allowed to enter the convent where she lived the last 40 years of her life in prayer, mortification and service to the people of Cascia.
For the last 15 years of her life she received a stigmata-like thorn wound in answer to her prayers to be more profoundly conformed to the passion of the Lord Jesus. Rita was bedridden for the last four years of her life, consuming almost nothing except for the Eucharist. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 70 on May 22, 1456.
On the 100th anniversary of her canonization in 2000, Pope John Paul II noted her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman: “Rita interpreted well the ‘feminine genius’ by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.”
St. Rita was canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. She is the patron saint of impossible causes, sterility, abuse victims, loneliness, marriage difficulties, parenthood, widows, the sick, bodily ills and wounds.
Prayer to Saint Rita
O glorious St. Rita, your pleadings before the divine crucifix have been known to grant favors that many would call the impossible. Lovely St. Rita, so humble, so pure, so devoted in your love for thy crucified Jesus, speak on my behalf for my petition which seems so impossible from my humbled position. ( Here mention your request ). Be propitious, O glorious St. Rita, to my petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy supplicant. Be lavish to me, as thou has been in so many wonderful cases for the greater glory of God. I promise, dear St. Rita, if my petition is granted, to glorify thee, by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Novena Prayer to St. Rita of Cascia
O Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the advocate of the hopeless and even of the impossible; St. Rita so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not always relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of the suppliant; be lavish to us as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, or the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee.
We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify, thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
We pray: (mention your request) By thy perfect union with the Divine Will,
By the heroic sufferings during thy married life,
By the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband,
By the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God,
By thy miraculous entrance into the convent,
By thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings,
By the suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy crucified Savior,
By the divine love which consumed thy heart,
By that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on which alone thou didst exist for four years,
By the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse,
By the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life.
Pray for us, O holy St. Rita, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
(Say the novena each day for nine days. After your prayer is answered, please share your story with others.)
O excellent St. Rita, worker of miracles, from thy sanctuary in Cascia, where in all thy beauty thou sleepest in peace, where thy relics exhale breaths of paradise, turn thy merciful eyes on me who suffer and weep! Thou seest my poor bleeding heart surrounded by thorns Thou seest, O dear Saint, that my eyes have no more tears to shed, so much have I wept! Weary and discouraged as I am, I feel the very prayers dying on my lips. Must I thus despair in this crisis of my life? O come, St. Rita, come to my aid and help me. Art thou not called the Saint of the Impossible, Advocate to those in despair? Then honor thy name, procuring for me from God the favor that I ask. (Here ask the favor you wish to obtain.) Everyone praises thy glories, everyone tells of the most amazing miracles performed through thee, must I alone be disappointed because thou hast not heard me? Ah no! Pray then pray for me to thy sweet Lord Jesus that He be moved to pity by my troubles and that, through thee, O good St. Rita, I may obtain what my heart so fervently desires.
(Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, three times.)
Those wishing to offer a novena should repeat this prayer for nine days.
Prayer to St. Rita in Special Need
O powerful St. Rita, rightly called Saint of the Impossible, I come to you with confidence in my great need. You know well my trials, for you yourself were many times burdened in this life. Come to my help, speak for me, pray with me, intercede on my behalf before the Father. I know that God has a most generous heart and that he is a most loving Father. Join your prayers to mine and obtain for me the grace I desire (here mention your request). You who were so very pleasing to God on earth and are so much so now in heaven, I promise to use this favor, when granted, to better my life, to proclaim God’s mercy, and to make you more widely known and loved. Amen.