Saint Rita of Cascia

Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting and indoor

Saint Rita of Cascia

Widow († 1456)

Saint Rita was born in Italy in the late 14th century, near the little city of Cascia, of parents who though advancing in age had no children; she was the fruit of their pious prayers. At the age of twelve she resolved to consecrate herself to God by the vow of chastity, but her parents required her to marry. She obeyed; and God, who perhaps wished her to serve as an example for those having to bear with violent spouses, permitted that she be joined to a man of ferocious character, who terrified the region where he lived.

During eighteen years she succeeded so well in pacifying him that he eventually even became submissive to the laws of God. Nonetheless, his enemies killed him; and then the pious widow had to overcome her twin sons’ desire for vengeance. Again she succeeded. When the two young men died not long afterwards, she was without any further bonds to keep her in the world, and she made application to a convent of Augustinian nuns at Cascia. Never had a widow been admitted there, but Saint John the Baptist, with Saint Augustine and Saint Nicholas, who had died during the 13th century in the nearby town of Tolentino, appeared to her to answer her fervent prayers. They transported her miraculously into the convent by night, despite all the locked doors. The Sisters, finding her there in the morning, could not refuse her request any longer.

Saint Rita practiced severe mortifications, eating but once a day and taking only bread and water for food. She was a model of perfect obedience; she meditated every night, from midnight until dawn, on the Passion of Our Lord, and begged to share His sufferings. On one of these nights she felt in her forehead the pain of sharp thorns, which made there an incurable wound. The festering wound isolated her from the other Sisters, and she lived thereafter almost as a hermit in the convent. The wound was cured once for a short time, when the entire group of Sisters were to go to Rome on the occasion of a universal jubilee; on their return her wound opened again.

It was discovered that Saint Rita had the gift of miracles when a young girl was cured during her mother’s visit to the convent, to beg the Saint’s prayers for that intention. Soon many visitors were coming even from distant regions to ask her charity. She expired peacefully in May of 1456. The wound of her forehead, until then very ugly, became brilliant at the moment of her death. The shrine of Saint Rita is still a favorite pilgrimage site in Italy.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5

Constantine the Great

Image may contain: 1 person

Constantine the Great

Life

His coins give his name as M., or more frequently as C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus. He was born at Naissus, now Nisch in Servia Nis, Serbia –Ed., the son of a Roman officer, Constantius, who later became Roman Emperor, and St. Helena, a woman of humble extraction but remarkable character and unusual ability. The date of his birth is not certain, being given as early as 274 and as late as 288. After his father’s elevation to the dignity of Caesar we find him at the court of Diocletian and later (305) fighting under Galerius on the Danube. When, on the resignation of his father, Constantius was made Augustus, the new Emperor of the West asked Galerius, the Eastern Emperor, to let Constantine, whom he had not seen for a long time, return to his father’s court. This was reluctantly granted. Constantine joined his father, under whom he had just time to distinguish himself in Britain before death carried off Constantius (25 July, 306). Constantine was immediately proclaimed Caesar by his troops, and his title was acknowledged by Galerius somewhat hesitatingly. This event was the first break in Diocletian’s scheme of a four-headed empire (tetrarchy) and was soon followed by the proclamation in Rome of Maxentius, the son of Maximian, a tyrant and profligate, as Caesar, October, 306. Continue reading