ST RITA OF CASCIA’S DAY
Each year on the 22nd of May, Cascia celebrates its patron saint Rita. This profoundly moving event is a true demonstration of the holiness and mysticism tied to this beloved Umbrian saint. This day is also a celebration of family, in memory of Saint Rita’s life, who always followed the values of Christianity, labour and simplicity. Each family taking part in the celebrations receives a memory scroll and a rose. From the 12th to the 20th of May, devout followers of St Rita can prepare their souls with the nine days novena prayers taking place in the basilica, where they can also visit the saint’s remains. On the Sunday preceding May 22nd, a suggestive parade called “The Banner Procession”, which dates back to the 1731, when the town of Cascia wanted to thank the saint for her protection over the town during the 1730 earthquake. The banner, dating to 1614 and once used only during the procession of May 22nd, has been added at a later time. Since 1988, on May 20th those women who stood out in the dissemination of St Rita’s message are awarded with the “Saint Rita International Award” during a heart-felt ceremony. On the following day, the winners of the award receive a stroll that certifies their actions in spreading the message of cooperation and love preached by the saint of Cascia. On the same day, the town celebrates the passage of Saint Rita’s spirit from earthly life to the glory of the heavens. The path is studded with torches and a torchbearer carries one of them along the streets of Cascia, up to the basilica, thus creating a suggestive atmosphere all over the town. A votive brazier is then lit by a representative of Cascia’s twin town. On May 22nd, the town comes alive with a historical parade to recall the atmosphere of the times when Saint Rita lived. At the end of the parade, a pontifical high mass takes place in the basilica to commemorate the beloved saint; celebrations close with the Blessing of the Roses, a ritual where people attending the solemn mass raised up in the air hundreds of roses to receive the blessing by the bishop.