Rita had a difficult time, which is why she is the patroness of desperate people, lonely people, and women in bad marriages. She was sent off at age 12 to be married (to a rough man who was the equivalent of a gangster in that era. He bragged about his infidelities to her and beat and raped her.) She bore him two sons. After two decades of abuse at her husband's hands, some other criminals tortured him to death and brought his mutilated body to her doorstep. She had her sons, which meant the world to her, but they became ill and died, and then she was alone. She decided to become a nun, something she had thought about a lot over the years. She was considered totally unacceptable, but she kept appearing in the cloisters, no matter what type of security was in place -- she would just appear in the middle of the other nuns. She was eventually admitted, and given the the task of watering and guarding a dry twig stuck in the ground.
While praying one day a thorn pierced her forehead and the wound would never completely heal. She lived with it for more than a dozen years. The thorn appeared to shoot out of the crown of thorns on a statue of Jesus, but when the other nuns rushed to examine it, it was a real thorn, not anything from the statue of Jesus. They examined the statue as well. (they had all seen a ray of light and what appeared to be a thorn flying into Rita's forehead.)
Rita's dry twig transformed in minutes one day into a healthy blooming rose bush, convincing the other nuns that there was ... something about Rita ... after all. Rita never saw her life as hopeless, even when she lost her beloved sons, or lived without friends, respect or love.
Rita watches over persons born on May 22nd and women who have heavy menstrual cycles as a result of stress, a bad marriage, or tumors. In modern day Italy, many women are still very devoted to Saint Rita.
A prayer to Saint Rita:
Saint Rita, help me free my heart from burdens and sorrow, give me the strength to get through hardships and restore peace to my tormented spirit.