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The Story of St. Rita of Cascia

Author: Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A.
Copyright: 2002
First Printed: 12-02-2002
Reprints: 2005, 2007, 2010

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"Peacemaker," "Saint of the Impossible," the "Saint Who Asks Too Much" are just a few of the many adjectives used to describe one of the most popular saints of our times. With the canonization of Saint Rita in 1900, interest in and devotion to the "Precious Pearl of Umbria" spread rapidly not only in her native Italy, but throughout many nations.

As a woman who had experienced the various states of life as wife and widow, mother and nun, St. Rita has much to say to women of every time and place. As a victim of violence and a witness to forgiveness, she offers powerful testimony to men and women alike. It is hoped that this little book will bring many to find in St. Rita’s example a model whom they can emulate and an intercessor on whom they can count in their time of need.

About the Author: Father Michael Di Gregorio, OSA entered the Order of Saint Augustine in 1965, professed vows the following year, and was ordained in 1973. After 19 years of ministry in various parishes of his Order, he served as the director of social communications for his Order in Rome. Since 1992 he has been rector of the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia in Philadelphia. Father has also done advanced studies in Augustinian Spirituality, and has worked with the Augustinian Secular Movement. He has collaborated on several books on Augustinian themes and the saints of his Order. He is the author of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino: Patron of the Holy Souls (ST PAULS/Alba House, 2004).

Book: 78 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8189-0940-5
Prod. Code: 0940-4


"As a child I had a holy card that depicted Saint Rita with a thorn implanted in the middle of her forehead. I was told that the thorn was a sign that God favored her by letting her share some of the marks of God's love. This was all I knew about Saint Rita until I read The Precious Pearl: The Story of Saint Rita of Cascia. Michael Di Gregorio, an Augustinian priest who heads the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote this book with the hope that those who read it will find in her a person whose life was difficult yet possible to emulate. He also presents her as a saint who can be called upon to intercede for us in times of need. Rita was married at an early age and lived in a small town in Italy where factions between families were common. Her husband was killed by what we might call organized crime today. Within a year her only children, two teenage sons, died from an illness that ravaged the area. Through all this suffering, Rita clung tightly to her faith, forgave her husband's enemies, and prayed for peace and to follow God's plan for her life. Four years after the loss of her family, Rita believed that God was calling her to live the religious life. She sought to join the nuns in the nearby Augustinian convent. Out of fear, the nuns refused to accept her until the hostilities between her husband's family and the family of his assassins were resolved. Eventually Rita negotiated a truce between the families and was welcomed into the community. Father Di Gregorio has done a good job of writing this little book about a saint who lived over five hundred years ago but whose example shows us how to overcome difficult situations while remaining true to God. For anyone looking for an inspirational story of courage and love, The Precious Pearl is worth reading." --Marjoie Kolb in Liguorian, December 2003


"As someone who grew up in a parish under the patronage of St. Rita of Cascia (an Italian woman born in 1380 and canonized in 1900), I was very happy to see that her feast on May 22 has now been established in the Universal Calendar of the Church. It is for this reason that I call to your attention and highly recommend a new book about St. Rita of Cascia by Father Michael Di Gregorio, OSA, the Augustinian pastor of the National Shrine of St. Rita in Philadelphia. His concise and attractive work is entitled The Precious Pearl: The Story of St. Rita of Cascia. Of course, I knew the basics of her story: that Margherita Lotti wanted to enter a convent but was directed by her parents to become a teenage wife and mother, that in a few years her husband was murdered, and that she feared that her two sons would kill in revenge. Before that could happen, however, both of her sons died of illness, leaving her a childless widow who felt her call to religious life was renewed. Despite two rejections, she became an Augustinian nun who is now the Saint of the Impossible. This little book is so inexpensive and consoling that it would be an excellent gift for altar rosary societies, widows and widowers groups, etc. It should reach the wide audience of people who are suffering family problems on their pilgrimage to holiness as well." --Msgr. William Belford in The Priest, June 2003


"Saintly Patience: Daughter of peacemaker parents, a wife and mother, and finally a nun: Margherita (the name signified "pearl" in the Italian of the time) Lotti had a full life as a Christian. Fr. Michael DiGregorio, of the Order of St. Augustine has written a wonderful story about the saintly woman in The Precious Pearl: The Story of Saint Rita of Cascia. Her parents were mediators in arguments and family fights, and raised her to be a peacemaker. Married at 14, her life was traditional -- she had two sons -- before the tragic murder of her husband when she was in her early thirties. Praying for her sons to be spared the urge for vendettas, she asked for heavenly help to turn their hearts. While planning their revenge, both were struck down by illness. DiGregorio's story details her return to her first interest as a child -- entering a convent, and explains what she had to go through to enter. Aftrer 40 years in the convent, she died in 1457, though her cause for sainthood wasn't fully realized until 1900. A fascinating read about an inspirational woman." --Crux of the News, February 3, 2003


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