Cascia and Roccaporena

Cascia is a picturesque town located in a mountainous area of thecentral Apennines of Umbria, about 70 kilometers southeast of Perugia surrounded by natural beauty that attracts tourists and devotees from all over the world and is best known for being the birthplace and death of Saint Rita of Cascia,making it a very important pilgrimage destination. Cascia has ancient origins, dating back to Roman times. During the Middle Ages, the city had considerable strategic and military importance due to its geographical position. Over the centuries, Cascia has grown as an agricultural and commercial center.

The name of Cascia is closely linked to Saint Rita, born Margherita Lotti in 1381 in Roccaporena, a small hamlet of Cascia, she is one of the most venerated saints of the Catholic Church. She is known as the “saint of the impossible” and the “patron saint of desperate cases,” with a life story that reflects extraordinary virtues of patience, piety, and faith.

Margherita Lotti, affectionately called Rita, was born to a deeply religious couple and was educated in the Christian faith, from a young age, she wanted to dedicate her life to God, but, as was customary at the time, her parents arranged for her marriage with Paolo Mancini,a man known for his violent temperament. Despite the difficulties of marriage, Rita showed great patience and was able to convert her husband to faith and peace. The couple had two children. However, their happiness was short-lived: Paul was murdered, and shortly thereafter, their children probably died of disease. Widowed and childless, Rita tried to enter the Augustinian convent of Santa Maria Maddalena in Cascia. Despite the initial rejection due to the violence linked to her husband’s death, Rita was miraculously accepted after showing signs of authentic conversion and forgiveness. He then entered the convent, where he lived for forty years, devoting herself to prayer, penance and works of charity.

There are numerous miracles attributed to Saint Rita both during her lifetime and after her death. One of the most well-known is the miracle of the roses: it is said that in the middle of winter, a rose bloomed in his garden in answer to his prayer. In addition, during her monastic life, a stigmata appeared on her forehead, similar to a thorn in Christ’s crown, a sign of her profound union with the sufferings of Jesus. Rita was beatified in 1627 by Pope Urban VIII and canonized on May 24, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. His sanctuary in Cascia is a place of pilgrimage, where many faithful go to ask for his intercession in times of difficulty. Saint Rita is the patron saint of impossible and desperate causes, unhappy spouses and abused women. His feast day is celebrated on May 22, the day of his death. On this occasion, the faithful often bring roses to church to be blessed, in remembrance of the miracle of the roses.

The construction of the basilica in her honor began in 1937 to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims who came to Cascia to venerate her. The building was completed in 1947 and consecrated in 1947 by Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo. The basilica was designed by the architect Monsignor Spirito Maria Chiappetta, who created an imposing but harmonious building, capable of accommodating thousands of faithful. The basilica of Santa Rita da Cascia is an example of neo-Romanesque architecture with modern influences. The façade is majestic, characterized by a series of arches and columns that give the building a solemn and welcoming appearance. On the main façade, above the entrance portal, there is a large mosaic representing Saint Rita. The interior of the basilica is equally impressive, with a Latin cross plan and three naves. The decorations are understated but elegant, with frescoes and mosaics depicting scenes from the life of St. Rita and other religious themes. The focal point of the interior is the chapel that houses the urn with the incorrupt body of the saint, preserved in a glass sarcophagus behind the high altar. Under the main altar is the crypt, which houses the relics of the saint. Here, in an atmosphere of deep spirituality, the faithful can pray and meditate in silence. The crypt is decorated with frescoes that tell the life of Saint Rita, from her childhood to her monastic life, up to the miracles attributed to her intercession. During the celebration of May 22nd, the city of Cascia comes alive with processions, solemn masses and various events in honor of the saint.

A few kilometers from Cascia, known mainly for being the birthplace of Santa Rita, Roccaporena is a small village of ancient origins, and its history is closely linked to the figure of Santa Rita. The saint lived most of her life in this village, and many places in Roccaporena are associated with the events of her life: the house where Saint Rita was born and lived with her parents is now a place of devotion and visit for pilgrims. The house has been restored to preserve its original structure. A rocky promontory where, according to tradition, Saint Rita often went to pray and meditate is the Scoglio di Santa Rita, the ascent to the Scoglio is an act of devotion for many pilgrims who wish to follow in the footsteps of the saint. Located in the center of the village, the Sanctuary of Roccaporena,a church built in her honor, a place of meditation and prayer, which houses several relics of the saint, a few meters away you can visit the Garden of Santa Rita where, according to tradition, she worked and prayed and the parish where Santa Rita was baptized. Roccaporena, like Cascia, is the scene of various religious events throughout the year, culminating during the celebrations in honour of Santa Rita, which take place on 22 May. During this festival, the village is filled with worshippers who participate in processions, masses and other ceremonies.

Cascia and Roccaporena, although small villages, offer an experience rich in spirituality, history and natural beauty. The connection to Santa Rita makes them places of great significance for pilgrims, while the authenticity and tranquil surroundings make them a fascinating destination for all visitors.

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