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St. Rita of Cascia

St. Rita of Cascia

Feast date: May 22

On May 22, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Rita of Cascia, who the late John Paul II called “a disciple of the Crucified One” and an “expert in suffering.”

Known in Spain as “La Santa de los impossibiles” (the saint of the impossible), St. Rita has become immensely popular throughout the centuries. She is invoked by people in all situations and stations of life, since she had embraced suffering with charity and wrongs with forgiveness in the many trials she experienced in her life: as a wife, widow, a mother surviving the death of her children, and a nun.

Born in 1386 in Roccaparena, Umbria, St. Rita was married at the age of 12 to a violent and ill-tempered husband. He was murdered 18 years later and she forgave his murderers, praying that her twin sons, who had sworn to avenge their father’s death may also forgive. She was granted this grace, and her sons, who died young, died reconciled to God.

The saint heard the call to become a nun in the Augustinian convent at Cascia, but was refused entry at first. She asked the intercession of Sts. Augustine, Mary Magadalene and John the Baptist and was finally allowed to enter the convent where she lived the last 40 years of her life in prayer, mortification and service to the people of Cascia.

For the last 15 years of her life she received a stigmata-like thorn wound in answer to her prayers to be more profoundly conformed to the passion of the Lord Jesus. Rita was bedridden for the last four years of her life, consuming almost nothing except for the Eucharist. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 70 on May 22, 1456.

On the 100th anniversary of her canonization in 2000, Pope John Paul II noted her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman: “Rita interpreted well the 'feminine genius' by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.”

St. Rita was canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. She is the patron saint of impossible causes, sterility, abuse victims, loneliness, marriage difficulties, parenthood, widows, the sick, bodily ills and wounds.

Seek unity amid persecution, Vatican cardinal tells Middle Eastern Christians (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity)

“Today, violent storms are surrounding the boat of the Christians of the Middle East, and indeed they are affecting all humanity: the terrible consequences of the continuing conflict in Syria, the suffering caused by violence and discrimination, the emigration of many Christians from the area, the emergence of new divisions among Christians, without forgetting the evils that affect the whole world, such as climate change, the pandemic, and war in so many places, including Europe,” Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said in a message, dated April 28 and published May 19, to participants in the 12th General Assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches.

“We know that the Risen Lord will lead us towards the unity for which he prayed at the eve of his Passion,” Cardinal Koch added. “Like the Magi, like the disciples of Emmaus, let us walk together towards the blessed day when we will be able to eat and drink together His Body and Blood.”

Italy's Catholic Church at crossroads over sexual abuse investigation (Reuters)

Next week, Italy’s bishops will discuss the establishment of a commission to investigate the historic sexual abuse of minors in Italian Catholic institutions. Reuters reported that “bishops are divided over whether an eventual full-scale investigation should be internal, using existing resources such as diocesan anti-abuse committees, or by an outside group, potentially comprising academics, lawyers and abuse experts.”

USCCB welcomes Biden administration's renewed engagement with Cuba (USCCB)

“The US bishops, including the Cuban-American bishops, in conjunction with the Holy See and the bishops of Cuba, continue to stress the vital importance of bilateral engagement and mutually beneficial trade relations between the United States and Cuba as the key to transformative change on the island,” Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said after the Biden administration reversed some of the Trump administration’s policies toward Cuba.

US Vatican ambassador: World is looking to Pope Francis to help end Ukraine war (National Catholic Reporter)

“I know that the rest of the world, when they hope for one person to solve this problem, they look at the Pope,” Joe Donnelly, the new US Ambassador to the Holy See, said in an interview. “The United States will do anything humanly possible to partner with the Vatican or anyone else to see a peaceful conclusion to Ukraine.”

Donnelly also criticized Cardinal Joseph Zen’s arrest as “outrageous” and “said the US had registered its concerns over it to the Holy See,” according to the report.

Egypt hands down death sentence for priest's murder (Arab News)

Father Arsanios Wadid, a Coptic Orthodox priest, was stabbed to death last month in Alexandria, Egypt.

At massacre site, Salvadoran cardinal condemns vengeance, exalts peace (CNS)

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador in the Central American nation of El Salvador (map), honored the victims of the Sumpul River massacre (1980), which took place less than two months after the martyrdom of St. Óscar Romero.

To bear fruit, be true to your roots, Pope tells Romanian seminarians (Vatican Press Office)

On May 19, Pope Francis delivered an address to the seminarians of the Pio Romanian College in Rome on the 85th anniversary of its foundation.

Recalling persecuted Romanian “pastors who were materially poor, but rich in the Gospel,” Pope Francis told the seminarians, “Be like this, joyful apostles of the faith you have inherited, willing to keep nothing for yourselves and ready to reconcile with all, to forgive and to weave unity, overcoming all animosity and victimhood. Then your seed will also be evangelical and bear fruit.”

Argentine governor meets with Pope (La Nación (Argentina))

Jorge Capatanich, the governor of Argentina’s Chaco Province (map), met with Pope Francis on May 19.

Capatanich is Argentina’s former Minister of Economy, Social Development, Labor and Health, and was Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers under former President (and current Vice President) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

“We have in Pope Francis a spiritual leader with a light that inspires the world,” Capatanich said following his “deep and heartfelt” meeting with the “dear and beloved Pontiff.”

At conference involving Church leaders and police, Pope condemns human trafficking (Crux)

The Santa Marta Group, which fosters cooperation between bishops and law enforcement in combating human trafficking, organized a three-day conference in Rome entitled “Catalysts to ending modern slavery: from intention to action.”

According to tweets from the May 17-19 conference, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (England) said that “a priority is to break the financial model” that funds human trafficking. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar spoke about organ trafficking and called it the “new organized crime.”

“I thank you for your commitment in seeking to eradicate this criminal activity that violates the dignity and rights of men, women and children and leaves long-lasting effects upon individual victims and the broader society,” Pope Francis said in his address to participants in the conference. “The Church remains grateful for every expression of fraternal charity and care shown to all who have been enslaved and exploited, for in this way, God’s loving mercy becomes visible and the fabric of society is strengthened and renewed,”