Today is the feastday of our Sr. Rita Marie of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, CP, one of the first four local vocations to our monastery.
Born: October 15, 1931
Professed: September 25, 1952
Died: April 11, 2009
Born in 1386, Rita was the daughter of Antonio and Amata Lotti, a couple known as the Peacemakers of Jesus; they had Rita late in life. From her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was twelve, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive individual who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Disappointed but obedient, Rita married him when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s abuses for eighteen years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.
Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. Asking for the intervention of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen at age 36.
Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.
Confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything; Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.
Among the other areas, Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.
Patronage: abuse victims, against infertility, against loneliness, against sickness, against sterility, against wounds, bodily ills, Cascia, Italy, Dalayap, Philippines, desperate causes, difficult marriages, forgotten causes, Igbaras, Iloilo, Philippines, impossible causes, lost causes, parenthood, sick people, sterile people, victims of physical spouse abuse, widows, wounded people