ST. RITA CATHOLIC CHURCH
6254 Valley Knoll Drive Rockford, IL 61109 815.398.0853
The Life of Saint Rita
An attractive young girl of eighteen, who wanted to be a nun, but whose parents forced her to marry a man who later was murdered. A mother of two children for whose death she prayed; a widowed mother who later became a nun; a nun for forty-four years who bore on her forehead a mark of Our Lords passion; such was this interesting woman! Someone who probably has experienced every problem that we encounter and who knows just how we feel. Yes, this is our patroness, Saint Rita.
In 1381, Antonio and Amata Mancini, both late in life after years of waiting and praying, had a daughter. She grew to be an attractive young lady popular with the prominent young men of the city. To her elderly parents surprise, she stated that she wanted to be a nun. This they could not allow and, through mild and sometimes forceful persuasion, prevailed upon her to marry at the age of eighteen. Her husband was kind and friendly outside the home; inside he ridiculed and even beat her. For eighteen years she prayed for his conversion. Finally he came and asked her forgiveness, went to church, knelt before the priest in confession and asked Gods forgiveness.
The happiness of his wife was short lived, however; a few months later he was found on a lonely road stabbed to death. Even greater tragedy fell upon the young widow as she heard her sons swear to avenge their fathers death. To God she prayed that, rather than allow her sons to be murderers, He take them from her. The winter was intense. The two sons, looking for their fathers murderer, became ill, were brought back home. A priest was called and they died soon after.
Many months later the widow applied to the monastery. At least three times her petition was not accepted because she was too old. Finally, returning to the monastery late at night after all the doors had been locked, she opened them without a key and, coming into the chapel before the Mother Superior and the whole community, asked again to be admitted. They took this as a sign from God and admitted her.
For forty-four years she lived a life of poverty, chastity and obedience in the monastery. In her forehead appeared a thorn like one in the crown of thorns of Our Lord. The intense pain she accepted as penance for her sins.
At the age of 76, in the midst of winter, she lay dying. From a nun kneeling by her bed she asked for a rose from the monastery garden. The nun thought that Rita was delirious, but to please her, she went to the garden and found roses blooming in the snow. For that reason she is often pictured holding a rose.
Through the years people have turned to her when all else seemed to fail. For this reason, she is affectionately known as the "The Patroness of Hopeless Cases".
Prayer to St. Rita