THE FIRST and principal privilege that God has deigned to grant to the body of St. Rita is that it has never suffered the law of dissolution. It is really wonderful to relate that though hundreds of years have elapsed since St. Rita died, her body is so well-preserved that there is not visible the least trace of corruption. In fact, St. Rita does not appear to be dead; [1] she has, rather, the appearance of a person who is sleeping soundly. Her flesh is milk-white; her mouth is slightly parted, so that one may see her white teeth. Her eyes are half-opened, though they had remained closed from the time of her death until the day of her solemn Beatification.

The second prodigy is that the habit and veil which St. Rita wore from the time she entered the convent until she died and which served for her funeral shroud are still intact and in good condition. Not less marvelous is the miraculous virtue of her clothing and veil. From time to time the nuns are accustomed to place pieces of linen or woolen cloth on the body of St. Rita. They then cut the cloth into very small pieces, and distribute them among the faithful. Many singular results have been effected by means of these little pieces of cloth that have touched the clothing of St. Rita. In proof of what we say we will mention a few miraculous results.

On the 10th of May, in the year of Our Lord 1525, a little boy, son of Giovanni Francisco di Nardo, a native of San Bruto, was suddenly seized with an attack of apoplexy. For three days the child was unable to take food, or open his eyes, or speak. Full of faith and confidence in the intercession of St. Rita, the poor father set out for Cascia, and having visited the tomb of the Saint, he obtained a small piece of her tunic. On returning home, he applied the piece of cloth he had received from the nuns to his son's eyes. The little boy opened his eyes at once, he began to talk and was entirely cured of the apoplexy.

On the 27th of April, in the year 1652, a house belonging to Signora Clara Calderini, wife of Giovanni Polidoro, a resident of Narni, took fire accidentally. Owing to the scarcity of water, all hope of saving the building was abandoned. The fire, however, was extinguished almost immediately by throwing into the flames a small piece of woolen cloth which had touched the veil of St. Rita. This fact is attested by the officials of the city of Narni, May 21st of the same year.

The third prodigy is the sweet odor and fragrance that emanate constantly from the body of St. Rita. This sweet odor is at times more noticeable than at others. Sometimes it perfumes the atmosphere beyond the limits of the Church, especially when any signal favor is obtained from God through the intercession of St. Rita. On these occasions the nuns ring the large convent bell in thanksgiving to God for showing Himself so wonderful in His humble servant St. Rita. On one particular occasion, the sweet odor and heavenly fragrance coming from the body was so very noticeable that the nuns were most anxious to know the cause. A few days later they learned the reason. A lady, the wife of an eminent physician of Sinigaglia, came to the convent and informed the nuns that her son, whose life had been despaired of by her husband and other physicians, had been cured through the intercession of St. Rita. In thanksgiving for this great favor, the overjoyed mother had brought a large silver votive offering, to be placed on the tomb of the Saint.

The fourth prodigy is that the body of St. Rita appears to be living, from the frequency of elevating itself, so that it touches the network of wires that covers the coffin. [2] This prodigy is especially noticeable on the feast day of the Saint, May 22nd, and when the bishop of Spoleto, or the provincial of Umbria, makes his visits to Cascia to venerate the Saint's body. It would seem that St. Rita, the model of obedience to her superiors while living, wishes even after death to practice the virtue of obedience.

The fifth prodigy is recognized in the virtue of the little breads, with the figure of St. Rita stamped upon them, that the nuns distribute on her feast day or during the year to the pilgrims who come to visit the tomb of the Saint to venerate her body. These little breads are carefully made by the nuns and when made are covered with cloths that have touched the body of St. Rita. By the eating of one of these little breads, many persons, grievously ill with fever and other maladies, have been cured. And many rain and hail storms, and even storms at sea, have suddenly ceased by exposing to the air one of these little breads, accompanied by the recitation of an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary."

The sixth prodigy is manifested in the wonderful healing power of the oil of the lamp that is kept constantly lighted before the tomb of St. Rita. Many remarkable cures have been effected in favor of those who, having faith and confidence in the intercession of St. Rita, anointed the afflicted parts of their bodies with a few drops of this oil.

In the year 1620, a very good and devout woman named Coluccia, the wife of Giovanni Andreas, a native of Norcia, came to Cascia accompanied by her young son, who was deprived of the use of his hands and feet by reason of paralysis. When Coluccia had come with her crippled son before the tomb of St. Rita, she obtained a small portion of the oil, and after she anointed his helpless hands and feet, she had the extreme joy and happiness of seeing her son cured instantly. Ever afterwards the young boy was accustomed to say: "I am a child of St. Rita of Cascia."

A like favor was obtained by Alessandro Alessandrini, a native of Amatrice, of the province of Abruzzi, not far from the confines of Cascia. He was at the very door of death, by reason of a deep wound he had received in the thigh. The wound was healed by one application of the oil, without leaving the least sign of a scar.

No less fortunate was the lot of Granicia, the daughter of Antonio Vanatteli, a native of Atri, a village of Cascia. This young girl suffered acute pains, caused by a tumor in her right side. She had recourse to the aid of St. Rita, and by applying the oil to her side, the pains ceased and the tumor disappeared.

In the year 1616, Pompeo Benenato, a native of Cascia and governor that year of Ferrara, bled from the nose so copiously that he became very weak from the loss of blood. Do what they would, the efforts of physicians could not stay the flow of blood. Being a man of faith, the governor made a novena to St. Rita. On the last day of the novena, the blood flowed more copiously than ever, but on anointing the extremity of the nose and nostrils with the oil and by making the Sign of the Cross, invoking at the same time the aid of St. Rita, the flow of blood stopped suddenly; In thanksgiving for this great favor, the governor presented a beautiful and costly lamp to the shrine of St. Rita.

1. St. Rita's body is said to be still essentially incorrupt; the preservation, although not so remarkable as described here, has continued to this day.
2. Documentation regarding the elevations of St. Rita's body, which occurred in former times, is preserved in the archives of the Archdiocese of Spoleto. [The Incorruptibles, pp. 131-132.]


But among the many prodigies by which God has made manifest the sanctity of His holy servant St. Rita, there is none more worthy of our admiration than the little swarm of bees, commonly called "St. Rita's Bees."

We have already seen that a swarm of white bees appeared and hovered around the cradle of the Saint, but the bees of which we now speak are those which first appeared when the Saint entered the convent, where they now live in a retired place in the convent wall. They leave the convent every Holy Week and remain abroad until the feast of St. Rita. Oftentimes during the year, they fly through the convent and in the garden, but it is very noticeable that they first fly to the room of the prioress, as if to ask permission to take their recreation. Another noticeable fact about them is this: they are the constant companions of the nuns while they are kneading the dough to make the little breads of St. Rita, and it would seem as if the little winged creatures were urging on the work of the nuns by the continual humming and buzzing.


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