Feast Day 22 May
Saint Rita (baptised Margherita Lotti) was born in 1381 in Cascia near Spoleto, Umbria, in Italy. When she was twelve her parents arranged a marriage for her, a common practice at the time, despite her repeated requests to be allowed to later enter a convent. Her husband, Paolo Mancini, was rich, but was a quick-tempered and immoral man with many enemies. Rita bore two sons, and brought them up in the Christian faith.
Rita endured Paolo’s insults, physical abuse and infidelities for many years. According to tradition, through her humility, kindness and patience, Rita was able to eventually convert her husband to a better life, more specifically persuading him to renounce a family feud, a vendetta. However, the feud between the two families became more intense, and when her husband’s allies betrayed him to the other family, he was stabbed to death. Rita gave a public pardon at Paolo’s funeral to her husband’s murderers, but her sons wanted to revenge their father’s death. Rita, fearing that her sons would lose their souls, tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail.
After they both died young, Rita tried to enter the local monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene but was turned away because of her family’s reputation. However, at the ager of thirty-six, she was eventually allowed to enter the monastery, and remained there, living by the Augustinian Rule, until her death from tuberculosis in 1457. When Rita was approximately sixty years of age, she was meditating before an image of Christ crucified. Suddenly, a small wound appeared on her forehead, as though from a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorn. For the next fifteen years she bore this external sign of union with Christ. Her body, which is claimed to have remained incorrupt over the centuries, is venerated today at Cascia. The September Pilgrims visited there in 2002.
Rita was beatified in 1626, but not canonized until 1900. St Rita has acquired the reputation, together with St Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. On the 100thanniversary of her canonization in 2000, Pope John Paul II noted her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman. Aspects of her life remain of great relevance until today, and she is seen, and her intercession sought, as a patron saint of abuse victims, loneliness, and marriage difficulties, among other needy groups.
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I put this in the Easter “LINK” and several people suggested a wider circulation…
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art, but the son died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father grieved deeply for his only son. A month later there was a knock at the door. A young man with a package said, ‘I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’ The father opened the package – a portrait of his son, painted by the young man, capturing his son’s personality. He offered to pay for the picture. ‘No, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’
The father always took visitors to see the portrait. When he died there was a great auction of his paintings and many people gathered to see them. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’ There was silence. Someone shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings.’ But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding?’ Another voice angrily said: ‘We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with it!’ But still the auctioneer continued, ‘The son!’ Who’ll take the son?’
Finally, the voice of the man’s gardener came from the back of the room. ‘I’ll give $10 for it.’
‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the Masters’. The crowd was becoming angry. The auctioneer pounded the gavel… ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’
Someone shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’, but the auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’
‘What about the paintings?’
‘I’m sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will that I was not allowed to reveal until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!’
God gave His son – and whoever takes the Son gets everything…
The Society of St Vincent de Paul
“The question which is agitating the world today is a social one. It is a struggle between those who have nothing and those who have too much. It is a violent clash of opulence and poverty which is shaking the ground under our feet. Our duty as Christians is to throw ourselves between these two camps in order to accomplish by love what justice alone cannot do”.
(Frederic Ozanam, founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society, 1834)
185 years later Pope Francis asked, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” (Evangelii Gaudium/The Joy of the Gospel). Francis has also said, “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”
Today, the mission of the SVP is “To seek and find those in need, to help them in a spirit of justice and to tackle the causes of poverty where we can.” Poverty? Poverty is not just about lack of money. Poverty has many faces, and Mother Teresa said that isolation can be one of the worst kinds. The Office for National Statistics adds that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe with 11% of those of pensionable age only seeing friend, relative or neighbour less that once per month.
On the 7thof May at 7.00pm in St Brigid’s Church Hall,Brian Jones the Membership Development Officer for the diocesan SVP will be giving a talk on its work and inviting us to respond positively to Pope Francis’s call in our own communities. Our once thriving SVP members have dwindled and more are needed.
Christ has no hands but ours (yours and mine) to do his work. Little has changed in the last 185 years since Frederic Ozanam made his plea. Something needs to be done, and you are invited to “be the change” that you would like to see, and turn our Christian concern into action. Join us on May 7th or just take one of the leaflets with my phone number on. I would be glad to hear from you.
God Bless Brian Jones SVP