The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy – See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Cascia, Province of Perugia, Italy

Website of the Sanctuary

+39 0743 75091

Opening hours every day from 6.30 am to 8.00 pm

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Saint Rita has handed down her message without ever writing anything, but using the concrete example made up of everyday life with respect for the other and for creation.

The testimonies of miracles that occurred through her intercession are so numerous that she has been declared by people of faith the “saint of impossible cases” (or saint of the impossible), insofar as, just as Rita taught us, if you place trust in God, anything can happen.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

This small, great woman has left traces of numerous miraculous, both in life and after death.

Healings that seem inexplicable. Thousands of testimonies of graces received arrive each year at the monastery.

A woman of dialogue and reconciliation, Saint Rita addresses everyone: Christians throughout the world, but also people who have a religious faith other than Christian.

The way that Saint Rita suggests is made of humility, sacrifice, listening to others and the search for dialogue. It is not easy, but it is the only way that brings us closer to God and makes everything possible.

Her example of simplicity and faith in God reaches you, today, over and above time and space, to remind you that peace is achieved only by building it on dialogue.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia

In Cascia, encounter your spirituality. Arriving on a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Santa Rita, you will feel surrounded by the protection and love of Saint Rita, through the simple and affectionate welcome of the Augustinian nuns and fathers who are always at your disposal.

Cascia is also the village that lies in the heart of the Nera Valley, where the intense flavours of the local cuisine coexist with the refinement of the works of art that this land to the south-east of Umbria conserves.

All of this is immersed in a natural landscape of jagged mountain peaks etched by rivers and streams, enclosed valleys and ancient villages waiting to be discovered.

Pilgrims from all over the world come to this small village, the beating heart of Augustinian spirituality. discover the Sanctuary of Saint Rita of Cascia.

  • Monastery

  • Basilica

  • Penitentiary

  • Hall of Peace

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

The Monastery

In Saint Rita’s days, the Monastery was dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. The old part dates back to the end of the 13th century.

It was enlarged in the first half of the 18th century with the generous donations of John V, King of Portugal, healed of cancer of the eye through intercession of the saint. The last expansion took place in recent decades with the construction of the Sanctuary.

The cloistered Monastery is the historical place where Saint Rita lived for 40 years as an Augustinian nun and where she died in 1457, at the age of 76.

Today, the Monastery is alive more than ever, where the Augustinian monastic community comprising about 40 nuns, expresses its life of prayer and consecration to God, including through constant and daily service to others.

Golden Urn

The Baroque-style golden urn, which can be seen at the back of the cell where the wedding ring, is placed, was donated by the Malaspina noble family of Ascoli Piceno;

it contained the body of Saint Rita from 1745 to 1930 and was brought here from the old church of the monastery; the crown and the monastic habit, which can be seen inside the urn, were previously on the body of the saint.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Saint Rita’s cell

Next to the wedding ring cell, is the frugal and narrow cell of Saint Rita, with the wooden sarcophagus, the so-called “solemn case”, which contained the body of the saint from around 1475 until 1745.

The saint rested in this cell, often devoting part of the night in prayer and contemplation of the Passion of Jesus.

The oldest evidence, such as the ex-votos examined one by one in the process of beatification of 1626, allow us to state that Rita took the Gospel’s invitation to be vigilant very seriously: she wore sackcloth day and night, and often fasted on bread and water, giving everything to the Lord. In her last years, very ill and no longer able to walk, she remained almost always in this cell, illuminated only by a small window, to left on high.

The Solemn Case

dates back to 1457-1462. According to very reliable testimonies from the proceedings of 1626, it was made (very probably on commission) by Mastro Cecco Barbari da Cascia cwho, with crippled hands, was cured by visiting the body of the saint. This sarcophagus contained the body of Rita from 1457-62 until 1745. Inside, it contains the “humble case”, Rita’s first coffin.

The tempera paintings on wood are attributed to Paolo da Visso. At the centre of the sarcophagus is the Christ standing in the tomb with the crown of thorns on his head and the wounds to the chest and hands clearly visible. He is depicted at the moment of Easter, at the passage from death to life. This humiliated and glorified Jesus is the centre of the spirituality of our saint.

The solemn case represents the first relevant evidence about Saint Rita: this is the oldest depiction of the saint which, presumably, shows us her physical features. The sarcophagus also reveals the historicity of the stigmata, providing a valuable testimony of the worship that started a few years after the death of the Saint.

The front panel, divided into three segments, shows St. Mary Magdalene, Christ and Saint Rita, dressed as an Augustinian nun, radiating rays of light from her head; on her forehead is the sore, in her right hand a big thorn and in her left hand a small rosary crown. The face, expressive and joyful, inspires intelligence and strength.

On the sloping cover there is Rita lying peacefully on her death bed and, next to her head, there is an epitaph (a phrase of praise extolling the virtues of the saint).

Translation of the solemn epitaph of 1457:
O blessed, how you have illuminated us
with your constancy and virtue before the Cross
where you received from Christ the King great sufferings,
after having abandoned the sad worldly life (of Roccaporena)
to go and enjoy (for singing hossanas to)
your moral infirmities
and the unknown wounds of your soul
before those far more atrocious of Christ!
What merit so great you have earned!
What great faith, greater than that of any other woman,
you were given!
So much so that you received from Christ one of his thorns,
not as earthly reward
because you never thought of having greater treasure
than Christ to whom you gave yourself entirely;
nevertheless, it did not seem sufficient
to consider yourself well purified,
so you bore it on your forehead for fifteen years
before ascending to heaven. 1457.

Inside the cover, there is a painting of the soul of the Saint being carried to heaven by two angels. According to the judges of 1626, the case was badly damaged. Only with the restoration of 1925 was it possible to read the epitaph correctly and clearly distinguish the images.

After 1920, the canvas by C. G. Bertelli was placed on the back wall. The canvas depicts a dying Saint Rita, assisted by the guardian angel, indicating Jesus and Mary to her; on the right side of the painting, there are St. Nicholas of Tolentino, St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist.

Above the altar, in the drawers, are conserved some relics: the habit of Saint Rita, the veil, the bands used to wipe the sore on her forehead, a pillow. They were placed here and sealed in 1745.

The ceiling and the door, painted by Giuseppe Congionti, like the wooden altar, were made in 1745, turning the cell into a chapel. In the same year, the solemn case was placed here. In the room surrounding the cell of Saint Rita, you can admire four canvases by an unknown painter of the first half of the 17th century.

Mass times 

  • Weekdays: 7.30 – 10.30 – 12.00 – 16.00 – 18.00
  • Holidays: 7.30 – 9.00 – 16.00 – 18.00
  • On public holidays the Mass is also celebrated in the Hall of Peace during the following times: 10.00 – 11.00 – 12.00

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia

«Great pilgrimages! Priests and faithful every day! Here it is always a feast day». These are the words of Blessed Mother Teresa Fasce, back in 1926, during construction of the “new temple”, which is the present-day Basilica of Saint Rita in Cascia.

Built with the offerings of benefactors, even the smallest, the Basilica of Saint Rita is a project that Blessed Mother Fasce wants strongly in order to accommodate devotees of the Saint of impossible cases in the town. She knows just how beloved this Saint can be, and pilgrims flock in their millions.

The original project by Msgr. Spirito Chiapetta was subsequently modified by Giuseppe Calori and Giuseppe Martinenghi. On 20 June 1937, Cardinal Enrico Gasparri laid the first stone. Just ten years later, on 18 May 1947, the church is consecrated. Elevation to Basilica takes place on 1 August 1955 by Pius XII.

At the top of facade, above the cross supported by six angels, towers the year in which the works are completed, carved in Roman letters: A.D. MCMXLIII (1943).

On the lintel above the front door you can see the engraved greeting in honour of the saint: Salve Rita vas amoris, sponsa Christi dolorosa / tu de spinis Salvatoris pulchra nasceris ut rosa (Hail Rita, vessel of love, dolorous bride of Christ / you, from the thorns of the Saviour, are born as beautiful as a rose).

Framing the entrance, ten bas-reliefs made by the skilled hands of Eros Pellini immortalise the significant episodes in the life of Rita: (looking from top to left) Rita with the bees; Rita teaches her sons to pray; death of her husband; entrance to the monastery; test of obedience; Sister Rita gives bread to the poor; Rita receives the stigmata; pilgrimage to Rome; the roses and figs in winter; the passing.

On the left side of the facade, behind the bronze gate, you can see the portal of the old church of Blessed Rita (1577), where the body of the saint was venerated in the past.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Inetrior of The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia

Along the walls, at man’s height, is the beautiful Way of the Cross by Pellini in panels of white marble.

The clearly visible big pulpit in walnut is by sculptor Emilio Monti, while the coat of arms of Pius XII in polychrome marble is on the floor in the centre of the church. The whole gives an impression of liveliness; it is a church full of the light of colours of light, but with an aura of mysticism.

Central area

The dome with the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the glory of the Augustinian saints is by Florentine Luigi Montanarini.

The composition is continuous and goes from the lantern, to the sails, to the masts; it covers an area of about 300 square metres and is painted in true fresco. In the sails, in the middle of groups of angels in multi-coloured clothing, you can see Saint Rita, St. Augustine, St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Blessed Simon of Cascia, St. John of Sahagùn, Blessed Juliana of Cornillon, St. Thomas of Villanova.

On the masts, again in neo-Byzantine style and with bright colours and elongated figures, Montanarini has painted the passing of Saint Rita, her canonisation, the works of St Rita, and the elevation of the Sanctuary to Basilica.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Chapel of Saint Rita with her body

Behind the large wrought iron lattice you can see the chapel of Saint Rita, in neo-Byzantine style.

The urn of 1930 containing the body of Saint Rita was placed here on 18 May 1947. On the marble base, Eros Pellini has carved Saint Rita dispenser of graces; the votive lamp in bronze, a gift of the municipality of Cascia in 1981, is the work of Artemio Giovagnoni from Perugia.

Represented by four angels on the four outer sides of the ark that contains the urn are the cardinal virtues: temperance, courage, justice, prudence (courage, the Angel with shield and sword, and temperance, the Angel with jug and cup, are visible from outside the fortress).

On the arch, a phrase in Latin is legible: “Posuisti in capite eius coronam” (He has placed the crown on his head).

The chapel friezes, the columns of the ex-votos in niches, the lamps that hang from the arches and the soft light that enters from above, give a sensation of mysticism and preciousness.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Along the walls, it is possible to admire seven valuable canvases by Giovan Battista Galizzi of Bergamo. Starting from the left: the birth of Saint Rita and the bees, Rita and her sons before the crucifix, entry into the monastery, test of obedience, stigmatisation, pilgrimage to Rome, passing of Saint Rita.

Lower Basilica

In 1947, a crypt was created in the foundations of the Basilica, and subsequently completely transformed to a design by R. Scrimger, F. Genco, and M. Caproni and inaugurated on 19 May 1988.

The whole is very harmonious; the simplicity encourages reflection and prayer. At the end of the presbytery, is the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a beautiful canvas by Luigi Filocamo.

Under the altar, you can see the frontal (decorative panel) in marble with the Last Supper by E. Pellini, who also carved the statues adorning the walls all around.

The processional cross (cross on a pole) with a Crucifix, the benches (seating) for the celebrants, the ambo (where readings are delivered during mass) and the altar in polychrome marble are by Armando Marrocco.

His precious stained glass windows with the Umbrian Augustinian saints, alternating with local landscapes, give the whole a touch of colour and light.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

Apse of Saint Rita 

Roman artist Ferruccio Ferrazzi imagines that a magnificent view opens up over the roofs of Cascia, contemplated by a shepherd guarding the flock (left of the observer). At the centre of the vision is Christ the judge, sitting on a throne with a glowing cross behind him; at his feet, Saint Rita gently rests her head on the knee of the Saviour.

Humble and confident, she intercedes for grace and mercy for her devotees. All around, a host of angels swirls in a beautiful play of light and colour. To the right of the observer, the rock of Roccaporena with Rita as a child in the clouds, a gift of heaven to our earth.

The triumphal arch shows two episodes from Rita’s life: Rita heals from the stigmata on her forehead; Rita as pilgrim to Rome for the Holy Year in 1450 at the feet of Pope Nicholas V. In the area of the women’s gallery are the theological and cardinal virtues.

On the right, against the wall, there is a small picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel (XVIII century) and the parchment of the decree by which Pio XII elevated the church to basilica on 1 August 1955.

Eucharistic Miracle 

The Eucharistic Miracle is kept in the stone and crystal tabernacle, flanked by two marble panels depicting the two sides of an open book. In 1330 in Siena, a priest called to take Holy Communion to a sick person placed the host in his breviary.

At the sick person’s home, he saw that the host had turned into blood. He went to confess what had happened to blessed Simon, who took the relic to Cascia.

The Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy - See her Body and Tomb, Mass times and Directions

In 1389, Pope Boniface IX confirmed the authenticity of the miracle. The fragment of parchment paper measures 52 x 44 mm. Looking against the light, it can be seen that the blood stains have formed the outline of a human face.

The beautifully rough-hewn stone sarcophagus contains the remains of Blessed Simon of Cascia. Born in Cascia in around 1285, while still a young man, he left his comfortable life to enter the Order of Saint Augustine.

Ordained a priest, he was a great preacher and spiritual guide; a writer in Latin and Italian, he has left us precious writings on theology and spirituality. He died in Rome on 2 February 1348; his feast is celebrated on February 16.

Penitentiary

The Sacrament of Forgiveness is celebrated in the Penitentiary. Here, pilgrims can always find priests to receive the Sacrament of Confession in the most common languages.

Unique in its originality, the Penitentiary is indicated by theological and pastoral experts as a successful model of renewal of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The structure consists of a path of catechesis and conversion, with the aid of works of art and audio-visual projections.

Inaugurated on 10 May 1986 to celebrate the sixteenth centenary of the conversion of St. Augustine, the Penitentiary was designed by architects R. Scrimger, F. Genco and M. Caproni.

Puglian artist Armando Marrocco has created various works of art and also studied the colour tones of the different rooms.

The Penitentiary is only open during peak times, but you can ask the Augustinian fathers to visit it.

Hall of peace 

Designed to provide extra space at those times of year when many pilgrims fill the Basilica to honour Saint Rita, the Hall of Peace bears the name of the founding principle of Rita’s Message, which is to pursue peace through dialogue and reconciliation.

It is a multipurpose facility that can accommodate about 700 people. In the Hall of Peace on Sundays with a large turnout of the faithful, we ensure the liturgical celebrations of the morning to give all a chance to take part in the Holy Mass.

The Hall of Peace was blessed and inaugurated in 2008 by Msgr. Riccardo Fontana.

How to come to Cascia – Directions

BY CAR
A1 Motorway Florence – Rome
Coming from the north: Exit Valdichiana
Coming from the south: Exit Orte

A14 Motorway Bologna – Taranto
Coming from the north: Exit Civitanova Marche
Coming from the south: Exit S. Benedetto del Tronto

Trunk roads : SS. 3 – SS. 209 – SS. 395, SS.320, SS. 396

BY COACH
Daily connections from Rome (Tiburtina Station) and from Spoleto
For information on times and services:
Umbria Mobility – freephone 800 51 21 41
www.umbriamobilita.it

BY TRAIN
Rome-Ancona line
Rome-Florence line
The nearest station is Spoleto
For information on times and services:
Trenitalia – tel. 892021
www.trenitalia.com

BY AIR
Perugia Sant’Egidio Airport
For information on times and flights:
Tel. +39 075/ 592141 – www.airport.umbria.it

Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport – Rome
Tel. +39 06/65951 – www.adr.it

Source of info and media: www.santaritadacascia.org

BY CAR
A1 Motorway Florence – Rome
Coming from the north: Exit Valdichiana
Coming from the south: Exit Orte

A14 Motorway Bologna – Taranto
Coming from the north: Exit Civitanova Marche
Coming from the south: Exit S. Benedetto del Tronto

Trunk roads : SS. 3 – SS. 209 – SS. 395, SS.320, SS. 396

BY COACH
Daily connections from Rome (Tiburtina Station) and from Spoleto
For information on times and services:
Umbria Mobility – freephone 800 51 21 41
www.umbriamobilita.it

BY TRAIN
Rome-Ancona line
Rome-Florence line
The nearest station is Spoleto
For information on times and services:
Trenitalia – tel. 892021
www.trenitalia.com

BY AIR
Perugia Sant’Egidio Airport
For information on times and flights:
Tel. +39 075/ 592141 – www.airport.umbria.it

Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport – Rome
Tel. +39 06/65951 – www.adr.it

THE BASILICA

«Great pilgrimages! Priests and faithful every day! Here it is always a feast day». These are the words of Blessed Mother Teresa Fasce, back in 1926, during construction of the “new temple”, which is the present-day Basilica of Saint Rita in Cascia.

Built with the offerings of benefactors, even the smallest, the Basilica of Saint Rita is a project that Blessed Mother Fasce wants strongly in order to accommodate devotees of the Saint of impossible cases in the town. She knows just how beloved this Saint can be, and pilgrims flock in their millions.

The original project by Msgr. Spirito Chiapetta was subsequently modified by Giuseppe Calori and Giuseppe Martinenghi. On 20 June 1937, Cardinal Enrico Gasparri laid the first stone. Just ten years later, on 18 May 1947, the church is consecrated. Elevation to Basilica takes place on 1 August 1955 by Pius XII.

At the top of facade, above the cross supported by six angels, towers the year in which the works are completed, carved in Roman letters: A.D. MCMXLIII (1943).

On the lintel above the front door you can see the engraved greeting in honour of the saint: Salve Rita vas amoris, sponsa Christi dolorosa / tu de spinis Salvatoris pulchra nasceris ut rosa (Hail Rita, vessel of love, dolorous bride of Christ / you, from the thorns of the Saviour, are born as beautiful as a rose).

Framing the entrance, ten bas-reliefs made by the skilled hands of Eros Pellini immortalise the significant episodes in the life of Rita: (looking from top to left) Rita with the bees; Rita teaches her sons to pray; death of her husband; entrance to the monastery; test of obedience; Sister Rita gives bread to the poor; Rita receives the stigmata; pilgrimage to Rome; the roses and figs in winter; the passing.

On the left side of the facade, behind the bronze gate, you can see the portal of the old church of Blessed Rita (1577), where the body of the saint was venerated in the past.

INTERIOR

Along the walls, at man’s height, is the beautiful Way of the Cross by Pellini in panels of white marble.

The clearly visible big pulpit in walnut is by sculptor Emilio Monti, while the coat of arms of Pius XII in polychrome marble is on the floor in the centre of the church. The whole gives an impression of liveliness; it is a church full of the light of colours of light, but with an aura of mysticism.

CENTRAL AREA

The dome with the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the glory of the Augustinian saints is by Florentine Luigi Montanarini.

The composition is continuous and goes from the lantern, to the sails, to the masts; it covers an area of about 300 square metres and is painted in true fresco. In the sails, in the middle of groups of angels in multi-coloured clothing, you can see Saint Rita, St. Augustine, St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Blessed Simon of Cascia, St. John of Sahagùn, Blessed Juliana of Cornillon, St. Thomas of Villanova.

On the masts, again in neo-Byzantine style and with bright colours and elongated figures, Montanarini has painted the passing of Saint Rita, her canonisation, the works of St Rita, and the elevation of the Sanctuary to Basilica.

CHAPEL OF SAINT RITA

Behind the large wrought iron lattice you can see the chapel of Saint Rita, in neo-Byzantine style.

The urn of 1930 containing the body of Saint Rita was placed here on 18 May 1947. On the marble base, Eros Pellini has carved Saint Rita dispenser of graces; the votive lamp in bronze, a gift of the municipality of Cascia in 1981, is the work of Artemio Giovagnoni from Perugia.

Represented by four angels on the four outer sides of the ark that contains the urn are the cardinal virtues: temperance, courage, justice, prudence (courage, the Angel with shield and sword, and temperance, the Angel with jug and cup, are visible from outside the fortress).

On the arch, a phrase in Latin is legible: “Posuisti in capite eius coronam” (He has placed the crown on his head).

The chapel friezes, the columns of the ex-votos in niches, the lamps that hang from the arches and the soft light that enters from above, give a sensation of mysticism and preciousness.

Along the walls, it is possible to admire seven valuable canvases by Giovan Battista Galizzi of Bergamo. Starting from the left: the birth of Saint Rita and the bees, Rita and her sons before the crucifix, entry into the monastery, test of obedience, stigmatisation, pilgrimage to Rome, passing of Saint Rita.

On the sloping cover there is Rita lying peacefully on her death bed and, next to her head, there is an epitaph (a phrase of praise extolling the virtues of the saint).

Translation of the solemn epitaph of 1457:
O blessed, how you have illuminated us
with your constancy and virtue before the Cross
where you received from Christ the King great sufferings,
after having abandoned the sad worldly life (of Roccaporena)
to go and enjoy (for singing hossanas to)
your moral infirmities
and the unknown wounds of your soul
before those far more atrocious of Christ!
What merit so great you have earned!
What great faith, greater than that of any other woman,
you were given!
So much so that you received from Christ one of his thorns,
not as earthly reward
because you never thought of having greater treasure
than Christ to whom you gave yourself entirely;
nevertheless, it did not seem sufficient
to consider yourself well purified,
so you bore it on your forehead for fifteen years
before ascending to heaven. 1457.

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