Rita of Cascia, Wife, Mother, Nun

Rita of Cascia, Wife, Mother, Nun

Rita’s received the kind of spiritual education that can only be received in the home and by the careful guidance of a loving mother (Amata) and father (Antonio). Antonio and Amata were eager to pass on the faith that had gripped them to their only daughter and took nearly every chance that presented itself to demonstrate and explain what it was they believed. At a young age, Rita professed the faith of her parents and made it her own. When asked what she wanted to do with her life she quickly responded that she wanted to become a nun. But as the only child–and a daughter, as well—this could be a frightening prospect for her parents. Antonio and Amata worried that there would be nobody to take care of them when they were old if their daughter–their only child–disappeared behind the walls of a convent and undertook a vow of poverty. So, instead, they arranged for Rita to marry a man whose promise was strong, but not as strong as his temper and tongue. Rita married Paolo Mancini at the wishes of her mother and father and began to forge a life as a wife and soon to be mother.

Rita gave birth to two sons by her husband Paolo: Giangiacomo Antonio and Paolo Maria. Regrettably, life with her husband was not easy or pleasant. He was verbally abusive to her and nearly everyone with whom he came into contact. He was nominally Christian but his faith extended no further than his occasional words and meager attendance on Sunday. But Rita knew that love was a transforming force and so she endeavored to love him even when he was unlovable. Furthermore, she spent her life raising Giangiacomo and Paolo Maria in the faith in which she had been raised. Day in and day out her love had a slow and steady effect on those around her. It took nearly eighteen years but eventually Rita’s husband came to profess a vibrant and saving faith that changed his outlook and approach to life. Rita’s love had led Paolo to God’s love and this transformed Paolo’s corruption into redemption. Yet, tragedy was right around the corner and soon after his conversion he was murdered by those he worked with–perhaps because of the chance that had occurred in his life. Giangiacomo and Paolo Maria were both adults by this time and so they vowed a vendetta against the murderers of their father.

Rita knew well the spiritual carnage that would be wrought in the lives of her sons if they followed through on their disastrous vendetta. She begged them to renounce it and abandon the lie that said vengeance would “make things even.” Rita knew well that more violence would not solve the problem and would only amplify the tragedy and in this she knew the power and value of peace.When Giangiacomo and Paolo Maria refused to abandon their awful course, Rita did the only thing she knew to do: pray. She prayed that God’s will would be done and that he sons would be saved from spiritual death because of their haste and fury. They were Christians and so she prayed that–no matter the cost–they not be allowed to destroy their faith with rash actions.Within the year Giangiacomo and Paolo Maria died of natural causes and with a sudden unexpectedness. Rita understood this to be God saving her sons from impending sin and destruction. Following the death of Giangiacomo and Paolo Maria, Rita worked hard to reconcile the rest of her family with her husband’s murderer.She was successful in this and retired to a convent as a nun and spiritual leader.

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Read more from Joshua Hearne at his personal website and the website of Grace and Main Fellowship, the non-traditional community he ministers with.

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