Last September in Paris, I sat for a while near the shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia in l’église de la Madeleine – though I didn’t know this at the time, too photographer-focused as I was on the beautiful candle light, the icon, and the people contemplating it. I researched Saint Rita today: she’s considered the patron saint of impossible and lost causes, as well as of abused and heartbroken women. She lived in 14th- and 15th-century Umbria; married at 12 to an abusive and violent husband, she apparently turned him partially away from violence – though he ended up stabbed to death by members of a family he was feuding with – and then prayed to God to keep her sons from the same violent, vengeful path (a request He granted, it is said, by killing them both with dysentery to save them from Hell). She ended up an Augustinian nun, and was canonized five centuries later, in 1900.

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