Friday, April 30, 2010


"The love of one's neighbor is essentially bound up with the love of God. St. John put the matter simply when he said: 'If any man say that he loves God and hateth his neighbor, that man is a liar and the truth is not in him.' Hence it would be a contradiction to profess love of God and at the same time to exclude a neighbor from our love. Therefore the love of neighbor imposes many positive duties upon us, such as almsgiving, correction, forgiveness, etc.each one of which is directed towards the well-being and happiness of our neighbor, at the same time it forbids certain sins which would bring unhappiness, spiritual or temporal, to a neighbor." (1)


Patron of Desperate Cases
Feast Day: May 22

St. Rita exemplifies love of neighbor.  During her life she endured much anguish from her husband and his family, but she prayed unceasingly for them to walk the righteous path and not the path of vengeance.  She forgave them, corrected them in charity, and sought always the spiritual well-being of each one.

She was born in 1377 in Umbria, Italy.  At twelve years old, her parents arranged marriage for her to a young nobleman, although knowing that she desired to enter a convent.  Throughout the 18 years of marrige, St. Rita prayed for her husband.  During this period he received the graces to abandon the culturally accepted path of vengeance, although he was assassinated for this choice. 

When their two sons took up arms and sought to avenge their father's death by killing his murderers, Rita prayed that they would die in the state of grace before they took that path. Her sons became ill, reconciled with Rita, forgave their enemies, and died in grace as their mother had prayed for.

Rita was eventually allowed to enter the convent, as she had desired to do  as a young girl.  Since she was not a virgin, she had to apply 3 times before she was accepted into the Augustinian convent. (2)

Her life then became one of more intense physical suffering.  Her prayer to Jesus to bring her a crown of thorns was granted when she received a wound on her forehead, as if made by a crown of thorns.   She was isolated as a leper from her community because of the open wound.  When she was permitted to visit Rome for the Jubilee of 1450, the wound was healed.

When St. Rita was dying, she asked for a rose from the garden. It was not the season for roses, but a single rose was discovered and placed on her deathbed.  The rose is her emblem which certainly affirms her as the Saint of the Impossible, as well as Desperate Cases, including those suffering from infertility.  She was canonized in 1900. (3)

 Dear St. Rita, model wife and widow, you yourself sufered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God.  Teach us to pray as you did.  Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession.  Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of my loved one.  To God, all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord.  Amen  (4)

1. Rev. Donald F. Miller, Catholic Treasures - Issue No. 88-89

2. Lives of the Saints, by Omer Englebert, 1951/McKay

3. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, MMI (St. Rita/Healing and Helping)

4. Op cit.