SAINT ZITA of LUCCA (1212-1272), holy woman – Patron saint of maids, butlers and domestic servants
Today, the Church honors Saint Zita of Lucca, who lived her life in deep generosity to the poor. The earliest biography we have of her is preserved in an anonymous manuscript belonging to the Fatinelli family which was written long ago and finally published in 1688.
Zita was born in the year 1212 to a poor but religious family at Montsegradi, a village near Lucca, the capital of the province of Tuscany in central Italy. Zita was raised by her mother, who instructed her daughter in the faith and instilled in her a deep sense of love for God and the desire to always live a life of virtue and selfless love.
From the age of twelve until her death, Zita worked as a servant for the Fatinelli family in Lucca. Despite her great workload, she would attend daily Mass and was known to devote time for daily prayer, dedicating her life to working for the glory of God. She believed her work would lead to personal holiness, and she would comment, “A servant is not holy if she is not busy.”
Dedication to her work also extended to serving the needs of the poor in her community. She would make time in her work schedule to visit with the sick and with prisoners, often giving her own food, and sometimes the excesses of the household, to those poorer than herself. Such acts of selfless charity would, at times, provoke jealousy on the part of some of the other servants, which caused Zita to emotionally suffer for their lack of love and concern for those less fortunate.
The Fatinelli family eventually placed Zita in charge of all the affairs of their household, including overseeing all the other servants whom she treated with complete kindness, never exacting any form of reckoning for the wrongs she had suffered from them for so many years. In time, Zita won them over by her love and patience.
Using the ample authority given her by her employers, Zita was now able to become even more generous in her almsgiving, but always careful to assist only those who were truly in need.
Zita died of natural causes on April 27, 1272 in Lucca. After her death, numerous miracles were realized asking for her intercession, so that she came to be venerated as a saint in the neighborhood of Lucca. On September 5, 1696, Zita was canonized a saint by Pope Innocent XII.
We commemorate her feastday on April 27.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, newadvent.org and franciscan-sfo.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Women ~ ministering to the underprivileged)
“Lord God, You teach us that the Commandments of Heaven are summarized in love of You and love of our neighbor. By following the example of Saint Zita in practicing works of charity, may we be counted among the blessed in Your Kingdom.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”