Saint Rita of Cascia
The Basilica Santuario di S. Rita in Cascia offers all visitors an important occasion for reflection and prayer. The Lord has given us with Saint Rita an unusual example of love.
Love was her vital strength and she was always guided by love in the different moments of her life, first asl wife and mother, then as Augustinian nun. Her willingness to forgive, her wish for peace, her ability to live the suffering were really great. Whoever approaches her message can only be attracted by the richness of her virtues, virtues that she obtained from the great spiritual school of her protector Saint Augustine. Saint Rita was the disciple of the Blessed Augustinian Simone da Cascia, who rests close to her, and she was fascinated by Saint Nicola da Tolentino, Augustinian too, so she is a glory of the Augustinian Family, that for a long time continued its work in the Basilica Santuario di Cascia. The Basilica Santuario was restored and enriched at the middle of the last century, by the Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce, Mother Superior of the monastery, who is also venerated together with Saint Rita.
The ancient part of the monastery of Saint Rita dates back to the end of the 13th century; it is dedicated to Santa Mary Magdalen. It was enlarged in the first half of the 18th century with the generous donations of John V, king of Portugal, who had been healed from an eye cancer by intercession of the Saint. The last enlargement took place during the last decades with the construction of the sanctuary. The enclosed monastery is the place, where Saint Rita lived for 40 years as Augustinian nun and where she died.
The visit of it is possible only in groups and during the opening hours. The monastery is not a museum, but a living place, where the community of the Augustinian nuns, which consists of about 50 sisters, expresses their life of prayer consacrated to God.
The first stone of the present sanctuary was put the 20th June 1937 by the cardinal Enrico Gasparri; the church was consacrated on the 18th May 1947 and rendered Basilica by Pope Pius XII on the 1st August 1955. The original project of Monsignore Spirito Chiappetta was modificated by G. Calori and G. Martinenghi.
Outside, on the lintel above the entrance door is the greeting of the Saint "Salve Rita vas amoris, sponsa Christi dolorosa/tu de spinis Salvatoris pulchra nasceris ut rosa". Hail Rita, vase of love, painful bride of Christ/you from the thorns of the Saviour you are born as beautiful as a rose.
At the sides of the portal Eros Pellini has carved 10 episodes of the life of the Saint; looking from the top left: Saint Rita with the bees; Saint Rita teaches her sons to pray; her husband's death; her entrance into the monastery; the obedience test; Sister Rita gives her bread to the poor; Saint Rita receives the stigmata; the pilgrimage to Rome; the rose and the figs in winter; her passing away.
Inside the Basilica, along the walls at man's height is the beautiful Way of the Cross of Pellini in white marble panels. The great walnut pulpit by the sculptor Emilio Monti is well visible, while in the middle of the Basilica on the floore is Pius' XII coat of arms in polychromatic marble. All together gives the impression of lifeliness; it is a church full of coloured light, but with a halo of mysticism.
To know the opening hours of the Basilica Superiore and Inferiore go to the official site of the Sanctuary of Saint Rita da Cascia: http://www.santaritadacascia.org
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The Church of Saint Augustine
It dominates with the convent from the hill's height the town. Its complex has resisted to the violent earthquakes of 1703 and before.
The primitive church, which was built on a pagan temple, should be entitled to John the Baptist; this could justify the donation that already in the 14th century for statuary norm the commune was obliged to present every year the prior of the Augustinians on the day of the Saint's feast.
Around the year 1000 the Augustinian hermits came in possession of the church and built the convent, where in 1381 was kept the provincial chapter. The temple with the convent in its present state was built around 1389, since in this year Giovanni di Buccio di Cascia stipulated with Antonio di Tozio di Berardone, from Cascia, too, and mayor and the monks' attorney, an obligation to supply 35.000 pantiles of good quality, for altogether 80 gold florins. He was obliged to stagger the delivery of yearly 5.000 pantiles in August. When the new temple was built the antique one was used as second church and then abandoned.