Postcard From Cassia – July 2011

An hour’s drive through the most beautiful forested mountain passes and fields of sunflowers is the home of another celebrated Italian saint, Santa Rita of Cassia. Her claim to fame in relation to the Casa de Dom Inácio is that she was the first Entity to appear to Medium Joâo, in a river bed, when he was a very young man. She directed him on his healing path.

She herself was an illustrious healer during, and after, her life time as almost a contemporary of St Francis of Assisi.

Her life began sweetly enough as the surprise only child to an elderly couple. Her birth was marked by the appearance of white bees that reappeared at certain points in her life and which still manifest on her Anniversary days. Although she wanted to enter the convent early in life, her path was that of a householder. She married a man who turned out to be a mafia hit man of the day, bore two sons, nursed her elderly parents until their deaths, became a widow then lost her sons in quick succession, and went crazy for a period of time, as a result.

When she recovered she tried to enter the convent only to be turned away until, with the help of a pair of long dead saints, she found herself transported through locked doors into the inner sanctum of the convent. They took her on.

Her life was subsequently one of healer: as an herbalist, a healer by touch, and an intermediary with the Divine. Her habits of ecstatic self flagellation three times a day, her single daily meal of bread and water (excluding her many fast days), and her long periods of solitary contemplation made her an inspiration during her lifetime. She bore the stigmata of a thorn (from the crown of thorns) or a nail from the cross on her forehead. There are accounts of the putrid smell and maggoty inhabitants of the stigmata which she bore cheerfully. It healed for a period as a condition for her joining a group of nuns on a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the Pope of the day. It remanifested on her return to the convent.

In this day and age it is hard to fathom that such hardship, such a wholehearted embrace of suffering seen as sharing the suffering of Christ, was anything but a psychotic condition. However, values where different in her day.

When she died in her 70s her emaciated body plumped out and had a tendency to float around, requiring a grill to be put over her open coffin. Like that of St Francis Xavier, her body didn’t decompose and became the source of many reported “impossible” miracles and an object of veneration to this day. As such, she is known as the Saint of impossible/hopeless causes.

Before her death, in midwinter, she requested a red rose and figs from the home of her birth and childhood. These duly manifested and were brought to her. Today she is often represented as the rose and some still experience her as the smell of roses.

Cassia today is a low key little mountain village with the Basilica that bears her remains. While she might not be one of the “big name” saints anymore, her last resting place remains energetically very powerful. The story of her life’s journey, while hard to understand in today’s context, remains an inspiration to many who still invoke her support for the resolution of hopeless causes with a large number of reported successes. Maybe, just maybe, you would like to try her out.

See also: India is alive and still here. It's official!
 A Pilgrim’s Postcard From Assisi
 Postcard From A Pilgrim - Jerusalem - July 2010
 Postcard From A Pilgrim - Monserrat, Spain - July 2010
 Facebook - search for group Casa Pilgrims' Postcards


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