St Rita – 22 May

On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, the Patron Saint of abused women.

Rita was born in Cascia, near Spoleto in Umbria. Despite wishing to becoming a nun, her family married her off at the age of 12 to a rich but violent and lascivious local noble man. Rita fulfilled the role of wife and mother in an exemplary way to this man and managed to change his behaviour. He himself was murdered by his enemies, and after this she entered the local convent.

Rita was known for her devotion and prayer. On once occasions she received a partial stigmata when he forehead began to bleed. She is often depicted in this way in pictures of her. She died in Cascia in 1457.

Domestic abuse is a horrible reality in our society still today. It has a long pedigree alas, and is not confined to any one class or place. Thankfully we have laws in place now which try to make it a thing of the past, although we are still far from attaining that very desirable goal.

St. Rita shows us a woman who, despite her circumstances, is strong and determined. Let us ask for her prayers that we may show the same determination in working to end the scourge of domestic abuse. P.D.

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