Monday, February 17, 2014

Saint Rita of Cascia—Still Helping Brides

You probably know Rita of Cascia as a patron of desperate causes.  Few are more desperate than the bride looking for the perfect dress, unless it’s the parents who are expected to pay for it. And that is where St. Rita is still interceding.   At her convent in the Umbria region of Italy, Sister Maria Laura is busy matching brides with wedding dresses.  We could call the convent a recycling center but that doesn’t do justice to the story filed by Gaia Pianigiani of the New York Times, on February 12.

Piangiani writes that at the convent, which is attached to St. Rita's shrine, Sister Maria Laura “runs one of Italy’s most unlikely ateliers,” For years women have been donating their wedding gowns to the convent, in thanks for favors granted.  And a growing number of brides-to-be come there to find the perfect dress among these donations. 

You might recall that St. Rita herself had a miserable marriage to a bully who smashed all her wedding china.  He made many enemies and he was finally murdered, whereupon she entered the local Augustinian convent and devoted the rest of her life to good works.  She was associated with many miracles both before and after her death.  Her shrine in Cascia has always been visited by women seeking her help with their own marriages.  Many of them, grateful for favors received, donate their wedding dresses to the convent.

Today prospective brides come from all over Italy, often accompanied by their extended family, seeking a dress from those that have been donated.   Brides who can afford it make a generous cash donation, but nothing is required. 

Sister Maria Laura oversees all this.  She was a designer and seamstress in Lucca before entering the convent 20 years ago at the age of 28 and she makes all the necessary alterations.  She told the Times that she’s dressed brides in all shapes and sizes.    

One bride described her visit to the convent: “I’ve felt at home here from the very first minute.  After all, nuns have a calling.  Love is a calling, too.” 

Thank you, Gaia Pianigiani for a lovely story!

Complete story here:   Picture from You can visit the shrine of St. Rita at

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