The Sanctuary of the Work of Saint Rita of Roccaporena
The work of Saint Rita di Roccaporena, birth place of the Saint, wants to present in a few lines this mystic village and bring you to enjoy the peace offered by the landscape, the sanctuaries, the hotels and the small residences.
Like a box this corner of Umbria guards the memories of Saint Rita as young woman, bride, mother and after the cruel assassination of her husband as widow. It rises at the bottom of the village. It was built according to the plans of the architect Oreste Della Piana di Alba, consacrated and opened to the public in 1948. It is a construction in Romanesque style, for the carrying out of which the planner has kept in mind the characteristics of simplicity and poverty which underline the humble religiosity of the Saint. Outside the building is covered with smoothed local stone; the 16th June 1968 in the centre of the fountain in the arcaded court was put the bronce statue of Saint Rita by the sculptor Venanzo Crocetti from Rome, who has portrayed the Saint during her crosier life, at the height of her years and in the period of her motherhood.
Such moments have been expressed by the magnificence of the statue, the strength of the image and the folds of her dress more pronounced on the breast and the abdomen. A celestial vision seems to abduct the woman who with open arms seems to want to detach herself from earth to reach the monastery of the Augustinians of Cascia.
Inside the sanctuary is with nave and two aisles which sustain the women's gallery. The floor is of prophyritic stone; the banisters and the altar are of precious marble. The apsidal area is occupied by mosaics designed by the architect Della Piana, carried out by the painter Ermanno Politi di Torino and translated by the mosaicist Giordano Righini of the same town in 1967. The work, unique in its kind, might be the best modern art has left in the churches of the zone, for the conception of the work as well as for the tonalities of the colours and the expressiveness of the images; it adapts perfectly to the style of the temple and does not disturb, but favours the composure. The crucified Christ occupies an important position; the Mother and Saint Rita, who is shining from the thorn, are on the border with crossed on the chest and looking towards the Redeemer; in secondary position the Saints Augustine and Nicola da Tolentino; on the left of the Augustinian the Saints John the Baptist and Montano. On the top, above the crucifix, the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Father showing the prize of redemption to humanity. On the extradoss is written in gold referring to Saint Rita: IUXTA CRUCEM RITA VULNERATA A CHRISTO DOMINO CORONATUR.
The walls of the presbytery are adorned with roses and vine shoots. On the altar is the tabernacle in bronze with the resurrected Christ, Emmaus' Supper, Abel's offer and the Marriage at Cana. On the side walls of the hall are whole figures of the Saints Francis of Assisi and Clare and on the right side the Saints Benedict and Scholastica. On the left: SPINARUM ACULEOS EXPERTA RITA VICTRICEM CORONAM MERERIS / A MYSTICIS APIBUS DULCETUDINEM IN TUOS PROXIMOS RITA DOCERIS; on the right: ROSARUM TUARUM ODORE ALLECTI AD TE RITA UNDIQUE CURRUNT FIDELES / A TE DISCANT OMNES QUOMODO CHRISTUM SANTESANTE SEQUANTUR.
Le pareti del presbiterio sono ornate con rose e tralci con uva. Sull'altare, tabernacolo in bronzo con Cristo risorto, la Cena di Emmaus, l'offerta di Abele e le Nozze di Cana. Nelle pareti laterali della sala sono presentati, a figura intera, a sinistra i SS. Francesco di Assisi e Chiara e a destra i ss. Benedetto e Scolastica. A sinistra: SPINARUM ACULEOS EXPERTA RITA VICTRICEM CORONAM MERERIS / A MYSTICIS APIBUS DULCETUDINEM IN TUOS PROXIMOS RITA DOCERIS; a destra: ROSARUM TUARUM ODORE ALLECTI AD TE RITA UNDIQUE CURRUNT FIDELES / A TE DISCANT OMNES QUOMODO CHRISTUM SANTESANTE SEQUANTUR.
In the little chapel on the right side is in a silver box the leather coat the Saint wore when it was cold. On the coloured stained-glass windows is Saint Rita with the Saints Augustine and Jacob della Marca at her side, created by the painter Angela Panigali (1966) from Milan; the same artist has created the stained-glass windows of the little chapel on the left side, where the Madonna stands between the Saints Benedict and Vincenzo Pallotti from S. Giorgio di Cascia.
For further informations about the works of Saint Rita and Roccaporena, visit the site http://www.roccaporena.com
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Biography of Saint Rita
For many the year 1381 is the birth year of Margherita Lotti, born at Roccaporena and her parents were Antonio and Amata Ferri. When she was young she wished to consacrate herself to God, but her parents, already quite old, wanted to see settled their only daughter before they died. Rita was gentle and obidient and did not want to contradict her parents, so she married very young Paolo Mancini. The quarrelsome character of Paolo did not prevent Rita from helping him to change his intractable character with her burning and tender love as wife. From the love of Paolo and Rita were born twins: Giacomo Antonio and Paola Maria who received all the tenderness, love and attention of Rita. This period, which maybe was the most beautiful one in her life as wife, ended tragically with the murder of her husband, which happened in the middle of the night near the mill of Remolida da Poggiodomo in the valley under the crags of Collegiacone. Political reasons or old revenges could have been the cause of this crime.
Paolo's last words were words of love for Rita and his children. The message of forgiveness is the highest expression of the knowledge of the Cross, and in the soul of Rita was lighted a limitless compassion for those who had murdered her husband. She undertook at once effective steps to obtain pacification, beginning with her children, that felt it their duty to revenge the death of their father. The feelings of forgiveness and gentleness of Rita could not convince them. So Rita prayed to the Lord offering the lives of her children so that they could not be stained with brotherly blood. "They died after less than one year after the death of their father".
Rita remained alone and with her heart broken by so much pain she dedicated herself to merciful works and above all to deeds of pacification of the relatives towards the murderers of her husband, an indispensable condition to be accepted in a monastery, which would have been the crowning of the great wish Rita kept in her heart since she was a girl. Fortified by her prayers and her trust in God, Rita knocked at the door of the monastery Santa Maria Maddalena in Cascia.
Three times she knocked at this door, and three times this door remained closed. But the good God carries always out His will. So in 1417 Rita was accepted in the monastery and she remained there for 40 years in prayer, to serve God and her brothers with love. Saint Rita became very soon a lover of the cross and made of this love the secret of her sanctitiy.
In the evening of a Good Friday, after the traditional procession of the Dead Christ, happened the wonder: "Rita received as a gift a thorn in her forehead" and she wore it for fifteen years as a seal of love.
Rita supported the pain with cheerful and heroic strenght, and she made a precious source for fruitful apostolate for her brothers of it. Except for a short period, when she visited Rome to get the Roman indulgences, the wound remained open on Rita's forehead until her death.
After having indicated Christ as target of our joys, Rita, happy to have completed her divine mission among us, died blessed on Saturday, 22nd May 1457.
Today we pray to her so that she remains vigilant for us near God.