Feast Day: May 22nd
Patron Saint: Impossible Causes, Difficult Marriages, Parenthood
Margherita Lotti was born in Roccaporena, Italy in 1381 to Antonio and Amata Ferri Lotti. The day after the child was baptized she was encircled in her crib by a swarm of white bees. After surrounding the infant they began to fly in and out of her mouth without doing her any harm. Margharita’s parents watched mystified believing this to be a sign from God that their daughter would be filled with virtue and devotion.
From an early age Rita implored her parents to allow her to enter a convent but instead, at the age of twelve, they married her to a violent man named Paolo Mancini. Beyond his verbal and physical abuse of his wife Paolo was a known philanderer and made enemies throughout Cascia. Despite all of this Rita was able to reform her husband over time and even convinced him to renounce their families role in the blood feud between the Mancinis and Chiquis. Unfortunately, despite these remarkable changes Paolo was later murdered by a close friend and confidant.
After her husband’s death, Rita publically forgave and pardoned his killer only to find her two son’s swiftly drawn into the tide of revenge. Giovanni and Paulo Maria swore that they would avenge their father’s death. In fear for their mortal souls Rita prayed fervently to God that He might take their lives before they became murderers themselves. A year later both sons died of dysentery, their hands unstained.
Following the deaths of her sons, Rita attempted to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cascia, but she was refused due to her families checkered past. When Rita persisted, the convent told her she could join if she could find a way to mend the wound between the Chiquis and Mancinis. After calling John the Baptist, Augustine of Hippo, and Nicholas of Tolentino to her aid, she attempted to end the feud.
At the turn of the 15th century the bubonic plague was sweeping across Italy. Amongst the plague’s many victims was Bernardo Mancini. Before he died Bernardo finally decided to abolish the feud with the Chiqui family. With the conflict resolved Rita was allowed to enter the monastery. She was thirty-six years old. It is said that she was carried by night to the monastery of Saint Magdalene in the arms of the saints she had called to her assistance.
While at the monastery, Rita performed her duties faithfully and received the sacraments frequently. Her great devotion was to the Passion of Christ, and one day, at the age of sixty, she begged, “Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour.” After her request, a wound appeared on her forehead, as if a thorn from Christ’s crown had pierced her. It left a deep wound, which did not heal, and it caused her to suffer until the day she died.
Towards the end of her life Rita was bedridden with tuberculosis. One day she asked her cousin to visit her old home and bring a rose from the family garden. It was January and the ground was frozen solid, her cousin knew that a rose would never be found, nonetheless he agreed. In the garden he found a single rose, which he brought back to Rita in wonder.
Rita died four months later, on May 22, 1457. Her body was buried at the basilica of Cascia, and was later discovered to be incorrupt. Rita was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1627 and canonized by Pope Leo XII on May 24, 1900.