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Recently, St. Rita has been referred to as the patron saint of baseball, due to the several references made to her in the Walt Disney movie The Rookie, in which the chances of Dennis Quaid's character of playing professional baseball is considered a lost cause. This has sparked a small movement in Roman Catholic baseball circles of considering St. Rita the patron saint of the sport: in support of the connection religious medals have been printed with an image of St. Rita on one side and a batter on the other.
St. Rita was born at Roccaporena near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. She married at age 12 to Paolo Mancini. Her parents arranged her marriage, despite the fact that she repeatedly begged them to allow her to enter a convent. Mancini was a rich, quick-tempered, immoral man, who made many enemies in the region. St. Rita endured his insults, abuse, and infidelities for 18 years, and bore two sons with Mancini, Giangiacomo Antonio and Paolo Maria. Although she tried to raise them with Catholic values, her sons grew to be like their father.
Toward the end of her husband's life, St. Rita helped convert him to live in a more pious manner. Although Mancini became more congenial, his allies betrayed him, and he was violently stabbed to death. Before his death, he repented to St. Rita and the Church, and she forgave him for his transgressions against her.
After Mancini's murder, her sons wished to exact revenge on their father's murderers. Knowing murder was wrong, she tried to persuade them from retaliating, but to no avail. She, instead, prayed to God for Him to take away the lives of her sons instead of seeing them commit such a terrible sin. In religious history, God heard St. Rita's words and her sons died of natural causes a year later.
After the deaths of her husband and sons, St. Rita desired to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene at Cascia but was spurned for being a widow, as virginity was required for entry into the convent. However, she persisted in her cause and was given a condition before the convent could accept her; the difficult task of reconciling her family with her husband's murderers. She was able to resolve the conflicts between the families at the age of 36, and was allowed to enter the monastery.
However, her actual entrance into the monastery has been described as a miracle. During the night, when the doors to the monastery were locked and the sisters were asleep, St. Rita was miraculously transported into the convent by her patron saints Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. When she was found inside the convent in the morning and the sisters learned of how she entered, they could not turn her away.
One day, while living at the convent Rita said, "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour". Suddenly, a thorn from a figure of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ fell from the crown of thorns and wounded Rita's forehead. As a result, depictions of St. Rita show a forehead wound to represent this event.
She remained at the monastery, living by the Augustinian Rule, until her death.
She is Patron Saint of Lost and impossible causes, sickness, wounds, marital problems, abuse, mothers, and recently ... Baseball.
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