Today Margherita Lotti aka Sister Rita of Cascia would be properly diagnosed as mentally ill but the Roman Catholic church venerates this 15th century nun as a “saint.”
“On one occasion, a Franciscan friar named Blessed James of Mount Brandone, came to the church of St. Mary to preach on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, focusing mostly on the Crown of Thorns. Rita wept as though her heart was broken. After the sermon was over, she went to her cell and prostrated herself before the Crucifix, meditating on the pains Christ suffered from the thorns. She asked Jesus to give her at least one of the 72 thorns which pierced His poor head, causing Him so much pain and suffering, that she might feel a part of that pain. Upon completion of that prayer, Rita’s Divine Spouse granted her wish, “Making of His Crown of Thorns, so to speak, a bow, and one of the thorns, an arrow. Jesus fired it at the forehead of St. Rita with such force, that it penetrated the flesh and bone, and remained fixed in the middle of her forehead, leaving a wound that lasted all her life, and even to this day, the scar of the wound remains plainly visible.
The pain was so intense that Rita fell into a swoon. She would have died right there had Jesus not preserved her life. The pain caused by the wound increased daily. It became so ugly, foul smelling and revolting, that Rita became an object of nausea to many who saw it. As a result, Rita asked permission to spend most of her time alone in her cell, but she was happy. Little worms fed themselves on the open wound, thus giving her new occasion to practice patience.
The year 1450 was proclaimed by Pope Nicholas V as a Jubilee Year, thus providing many indulgences for those who would go on pilgrimage to Rome. Several of the sisters were given permission to go. At the feet of her superior, St. Rita also asked permission to go. Fearful that those who might observe the ugly and foul smelling wound might be scandalized, the superioress denied her permission to go unless the wound would disappear.
Rushing to the feet of her Divine Spouse, Rita humbly sought God’s will, asking Him to take away the wound, but to continue to allow her to suffer the pain from the wound. The wound disappeared at once. Rita gave thanks and rushed to her superioress, who was surprised and astonished – and Rita was granted permission to accompany the other nuns to Rome.
The sisters visited the stational churches and the tombs of the martyrs. Many were touched by Rita’s devotion and piety. As they returned to the convent – just as Rita stepped over the threshold, the ugly wound reappeared on her forehead, and she suffered intense pains. The offensive odor and the worms reappeared also. When one of the worms fell to the floor, Rita picked it up with care, and placed it back in the wound. She called them “her little angels,” as they were instruments for testing her patience as they recalled to her the intense suffering of her Jesus. She once again retired to her cell so as not to inconvenience the other nuns.”