Friday, June 22, 2012

Saint Rita of Cascia and the Stigmata

We could spend a whole library of books sharing the miracles and examples of our Lord's love and care in St. Rita's life, but since her life is only a part of this book on heroic women our Lord has called us to share with you, we would like to recall one of the most outstanding gifts. He gave Rita a miracle.
Saint Rita of Cascia receives the Stigmata
During Lent of the year 1443, in Cascia, St. James of Marches, a great preacher of his day, gave a very personal, passionate sermon on our Lord to the Nuns.
Rita was so taken by the sermon that she returned to the Monastery and began to pray, with all her heart and soul, before a fresco of Jesus crucified. As she humbly asked for a part of His suffering on the Cross, admitting that she was unworthy to share His full Passion on Calvary, a thorn fell from the Beloved Head of our Savior and pierced the forehead of St. Rita.
She immediately began to bleed profusely, and the wound that kept bleeding has been accepted by all as the gift of the Stigmata of our Lord.
In the case of most holy people who have been graced with the Stigmata, like St. Francis of Assisi, and the saintly Padre Pio, the fragrance exuded from the holy wounds smells like a beautiful perfume from Heaven, more pleasing even than that of flowers. With the wound of St. Rita, came humiliation, estrangement and isolation.
The wound had such a pungent, putrid odor emanating from it that she had to suffer the ostracism and rejection of her fellow Nuns who, at best, feared it might be infectious and, at worst, could not bear the smell.
She spent the next fifteen years alone, suffering more and more excruciating physical pain. But although she was isolated from her Community in a small cell far away from any of the consoling companionship of other Nuns, she had the Consoler! Instead of looking toward herself and her pain, she focused on Jesus and His Crucified Head of thorns and all the thorns in her life were turned into roses of love by her Lord as she offered them to Him Here we have a perfect case of Redemptive Suffering. Stated simply, redemptive suffering goes like this. You have suffering which will not go away. For some reason, the Lord allows you to have it. You can't pray it away; you can't wish it away. You can become angry, and turn away from God, or you can offer it up to God for the souls in Purgatory, the conversion of sinners, or to relieve the suffering of someone here on earth.
We believe that Redemptive Suffering is a powerful offering to Our Lord. It's a way of taking a terrible negative, the pain inflicted on us by the suffering, and turning it into a great positive, by offering it to Our Lord Jesus.
We believe that Saint Rita of Cascia used this unusual twist of not receiving the fragrance of Heaven that accompanies the Stigmata, to glorify Our Lord Jesus.
She offered up to him the isolation caused by the putrid odor of her wound
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints for which they have been dubbed "experts on the Saints." For more about stigmata and stigmatist go to:
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