vendredi 27 avril 2012

Sainte ZITA (CITA) de LUCQUES, vierge et servante

Arnould de Vuez, Sainte Zita, vers 1696

Sainte Zita de Lucques

Sainte Zita naquit vers 1218, aux environs de Lucques, dans le village de Bozzanello, situé sur le mont Sagrati. Ses parents étaient de pauvres et pieux laboureurs qui l’éduquèrent selon cette simple proposition : « ceci plaît à Dieu, ceci déplaît à Dieu. »

Lorsqu’elle eut douze ans, son père l’envoyait régulièrement vendre des fruits à Lucques ; sa gentillesse lui attira un clientèle bienveillante et fidèle dont la famille des Fatinelli qui était une des plus riches de Lucques. Zita avait dix-huit ans quand les Fatinelli proposèrent de la prendre à leur service. Les parents éprouvèrent un vif chagrin en pensant qu'ils devaient se séparer de leur fille, mais ils voyaient dans cette offre de précieux avantages pour elle et un soulagement pour leurs vieux ans. Ils acceptèrent, non sans appréhension pour les dangers que pouvait entraîner cette nouvelle situation. Jusque là, ils avaient veillé sur Zita avec une pieuse attention ; d'autre part, la solitude et le calme de la vie champêtre, le spectacle de la belle nature, des arbres et des fleurs contribuaient à ramener doucement l'âme à la pensée de Dieu : qu'adviendrait-il à la servante de grande maison quand ces moyens lui manqueraient et seraient remplacés par le tumulte et le mouvement de la ville ? Les maîtres étaient bons chrétiens, mais ils n'exerceraient pas la vigilance délicate que dicte l'amour du père et de la mère ; d'autre part, il y aurait là d'autres domestiques qui pourraient cesser d'être bienveillants et même aller jusqu'à tendre des pièges à l'innocence de la pauvre fille. Les pieux parents étaient d’autant plus dans l'angoisse qu’ils savaient que notre existence ici-bas ne peut pas s'écouler tout entière a l'abri des épreuves. Les parents de Zita pleurèrent beaucoup en faisant toutes ces considérations ; ils prièrent encore davantage pour ne pas laisser sans ressources la chère enfant quand elle aurait quitté la maison paternelle pour suivre les voies de la Providence.

Zita apprit dans sa nouvelle position à devenir plus charitable qu'elle ne l’avait été jusque-là, car elle découvrit la misère des mendiants qui venaient chaque semaine recevoir une aumône dans la maison de ses maîtres ; son cœur fut ému d'une profonde compassion, et elle voulut contribuer à les soulager. Souvent, elle était choisie comme intermédiaire pour leur transmettre les dons de la dame Fatinelli ; cela ne lui suffisait pas, car si sa main portait l'aumône, ce n'était pas elle qui donnait, ce n'était pas le fruit de son épargne ou de ses privations. Elle pensa pouvoir faire davantage ; elle avait l’habitude de jeûner pendant le Carême, elle crut que le jeûne de toute l'année ne la fatiguerait pas davantage. Elle s'imposa donc la privation de tout autre aliment qu'un morceau de pain chaque matin et réserva les autres aliments qui lui étaient donnés pour les joindre aux autres aurnônes qu'elle était chargée de distribuer au nom de sa maîtresse. Quand elle vovait de pauvres familles dont les vêtements étaient déchirés et dont les membres grelottaient de froid, elle les conduisait dans sa chambre, les faisait reposer dans son lit, pendant qu'elle s'étendait sur le carreau à leurs pieds.

Elle était d'ailleurs la plus exacte, la plus assidue et surtout la plus fidèle dans tous les devoirs de son service. Elle n'avait demandé à sa maîtresse qu'une seule faveur : aller tous les matins dans l'église la plus proche. Elle prélevait le temps de sa prière sur son sommeil et non sur son ouvrage. Avant le lever du soleil, elle élevait son âme à Dieu, et lui offrait comme autant de moyens de sanctification toutes les occupations de la journée qui commençait. Un jour, pendant une de ses ferventes oraisons, le temps s'écoula de telle sorte qu'au moment où elle quittait l’église, le soleil déjà haut au-dessus de l'horizon lui rappela qu'elle avait dépassé l'heure où elle devait faire un ouvrage indispensable : c’était la préparation (ou la fourniture) du pain nécessaire à toute la maison. Elle se hâta de gagner le logis, se reprochant intérieurement la négligence de son devoir : quand elle arriva, elle trouva toute la pâte préparée et le feu allumé. Elle était convaincue qu'une autre servante, désireuse de lui épargner une réprimande, avait voulu faire sa besogne en son absence, mais quand elle tenta de trouver à qui adresser ses remerciements, personne ne sut ce qu'elle voulait dire, car personne n'avait songé à lui rendre ce service. Dans la simplicité de son cœur, elle en conclut que Dieu avait accordé cette faveur à sa servante qui avait tout oublié pour lui.

Cependant, cette grande perfection de Zita qui aurait dû lui gagner tous les cœurs, suscita plus d'un murmure et beaucoup de jalousie autour d'elle ; plusieurs de ses compagnes enviaient l'affection que la dame Fatinelli témoignait à cette fille ; elles s'impatientaient d'entendre qu'on la leur présentait toujours comme un modèle. Elles lui cherchaient querelle, tâchaient de la surprendre en défaut, et, n'y pouvant parvenir, elles dénaturaient ses actions, ses propos, la dénonçaient à leur maîtresse. Quand la dame Fatinelli descendait au milieu de ses serviteurs, et, en conséquence de ces délations, adressait d'injustes reproches à Zita, cellc-ci pensait dans son humilité que ses compagnes agissaient uniquement avec l'intention sincère de la corriger de ses défauts. Elle était toujours prête à se reconnaître coupable de tout ce dont on l'accusait ; dès qu'elle connaissait ses dénonciateurs, elle courait les embrasser avec une effusion ravissante de larmes et de remerciements. Cet esprit de charité et de douceur avait pris en elle un caractère vraiment angélique ; la paix du Seigneur, la paix des âmes, la paix de l'amour en Jésus-Christ finit par triompher de toutes les vexations. Elle régna sans conteste dans l'heureuse maison des Fatinelli.

Une nuit de Noël, qu'il faisait extrêmement froid, Zite se disposait à se rendre à Matines. Son maître lui dit : « Comment cours-tu à l'église par un temps si froid, que nous pouvons à peine nous en défendre ici avec tous nos vêtements ? Toi surtout, épuisée par le jeûne, vêtue si pauvrement, et qui vas s'asseoir sur un pavé de marbre ? Ou bien reste ici pour vaquer à tes saintes oraisons, ou bien prends sur tes épaules mon manteau à fourrures pour te garantir du froid. » Zita, ne voulant pas manquer à un office aussi solennel, s’en allait avec le manteau, lorsque le maître lui dit, comme pressentant ce qui allait arriver : « Prends garde, Zita, que tu ne laisses le manteau à un autre, de peur que, s'il est perdu, je n'en souffre du préjudice, et toi, de rosses fâcheries de ma part. » Elle lui répondit : « Ne craignez pas, monsieur, votre manteau vous sera bien gardé. » Entrée dans l'église, elle aperçut un pauvre demi-nu, qui murmurait tout bas, et qui grelottait de froid ; émue de compassion, Zita s'approcha et lui dit : « Qu'avez-vous, mon frère, et de quoi vous plaignez-vous ? » Lui, la regardant d'un visage placide, tendit la main et toucha le manteau en question. Aussitôt Zita l'ôta de ses paules, en revêtit le pauvre et lui dit : « Tenez cette pelisse, mon frère, jusqu'à la fin de l'office, et vous me la rendrez; n'allez nulle part, car je vous mènerai à la maison et vous chaufferai près du feu. » Cela dit, elle alla se mettre à l'endroit où elle priait d'ordinaire. Après l'office, et quand tout le monde fut sorti, elle chercha le pauvre partout, au dedans et au dehors de l’église, mais ne le trouva nulle part. Elle se disait en elle-même : « Où peut-il être allé ? Je crains que quelqu'un ne lui ait pris le manteau, et que, de honte, il n'ose se présenter à mes yeux. Il paraissait assez honnête, et je ne crois pas qu'il ait voulu attraper le manteau et s'enfuir. » C'est ainsi qu’elle excusait pieusement le pauvre. Mais enfin, ne l'ayant pu trouver, elle revenait un peu honteuse, espérant toujours néanmoins que Dieu apaiserait son maître, ou inspirerait au pauvre de rapporter le manteau. Quand elle fut de retour à la maison, le maître lui dit des paroles très-dures, lui fit de vifs reproches. Elle ne répondit rien, mais, lui recommandant d'espérer, elle lui raconta comment la chose s'était passée. Il entrevit bien comment la chose s'était passée, mais ne laissa pas de murmurer jusqu'au dîner. A la troisième heure, voilà sur l'escalier de la maison un pauvre qui charmait tous les spectateurs par sa bonne mine, et qui, portant le manteau dans ses bras, le rendit à Zita, en la remerciant du bien qu'elle lui avait fait. Le maître voyait et entendait le pauvre. Il commençait, ainsi que Zita, à lui adresser la parole, lorsqu'il disparut comme un éclair, laissant dans leurs cœurs une joie inconnue et ineffable, qui les ravit longtemps d'admiration. On a cru que ce vieillard était un ange; c'est pourquoi la porte de l’église où elle rencontra le pauvre au manteau a été depuis appelée la porte de l'Ange.

Chaque vendredi elle allait en pèlerinage à San-Angelo in Monte, à deux lieues de Lucques ; un jour qu'elle avait été retenue par les travaux de la maison plus que d'ordinaire, elle fut surprise par la nuit. Un cavalier qui suivait le même chemin lui prédit qu'elle périrait dans les précipices si elle continuait à marcher au milieu des ténèbres ; mais quand il arriva, il fut bien saisi de trouver à la porte de l'église celle qu'il croyait avoir laissé loin derrière lui.

Sainte Zita avait un grand amour pour sainte Marie-Madeleine et pour saint Jean l'Evangéliste ; une veille de fête de la première, elle voulut aller faire brûler un cierge devant son autel dans une église assez éloignée de Lucques. Elle arriva tard et trouva les portes fermées ; elle alluma son cierge, se mit à genoux et s'endormit. La nuit, un orage terrible s'éleva, la pluie tomba par torrents, et la Sainte reposait ; quand elle se réveilla, les rues étaient couvertes d'eau, mais elle n'avait pas même été touchée par une goutte de pluie, et son cierge brûlait encore. Les portes alors s'ouvrirent devant elle, et quand le curé arriva pour dire la messe, il trouva la Sainte en prières dans cette église qui n'avait pas été ouverte depuis la veille au soir.

Les maîtres auraient voulu traiter Zita plutôt en amie qu'en servante, et la décharger des travaux pénibles de la maison. Son humilité ne le permit jamais ; elle conserva jusque dans un âge avancé toutes les habitudes laborieuses de sa jeunesse. En avançant en âge, elle ne relâcha rien de ses pratiques de mortification. Ses dernières années se passèrent dans une prière et une extase presque continuelles. Elle arriva ainsi jusqu'a l’heure marquée par Dieu pour la récompense de son dévoûment et de sa foi. La maladie dont elle fut atteinte ne dura que cinq jours ; Zita s'était mise au lit avec une petite fièvre, mais elle annonca que sa fin était proche. De fait, la fièvre s'accrût rapidement, les douleurs devinrent aiguës ; la figure de la malade resta pourtant calme et joyeuse. C'était l'indice du contentement intérieur qu'éprouve une âme quand elle va vers Dieu. Autour du lit se pressaient tous les serviteurs de la maison ; on y voyait aussi de nombreux voisins qui, depuis de longues années, avaient appris à vénérer cette humble servante. En leur présence, Zita reçut le saint viatique et l'extrême-onction avec une tendresse inexprimable. Jésus qui venait reposer sur ses lèvres mourantes possédait depuis longtemps la plénitude de son cœur. L'heure de la mort fut donc pour cette humble fille l'heure d'une réunion p]us intime avec son Dieu ; elle fut saluée par un joyeux Hosanna dans le séjour des bienheureux. Aussitôt qu'elle eut rendu le dernier soupir, une étoile brillante parut au-dessus de la maison où reposait son corps, et les enfants se mirent à crier dans les rues : « la Sainte est morte, allons voir la Sainte dans la maison de Fatinelli. » Toute la ville vint rendre hommage à la vertu de l'honorable servante que Dieu venait de glorifier en la rappelant à lui.

Ainsi la vie la plus humble, la plus cachée, quand elle s'écoule avec l'amour de Dieu, égale en splendeur véritable la vie de tous les rois et de tous les puissants de la terre. Zita mourut le 27 avril 1278. Les miracles se multiplièrent tant au tombeau de Zita que, quatre ans après sa mort, l'évêque de Lucques permit de lui rendre un culte public qui se répandit rapidement en Italie, en Espagne, en Angleterre et dans toute l'Europe. Il y eut par trois fois, en 1446, en 1581 et en 1652, ouverture de son cercueil où le corps fut trouvé parfaitement intact, dans un état de parfaite conservation. Il est enchâssé et gardé avec beaucoup de respect dans l'église Saint-Fridien. Zita a été canonisée par lnnocent XII en 1696. Elle est la patronne de Lucques ; les servantes et les femmes de charge l'invoquent comme leur spéciale protectrice. De la chaumière du mont Sagrati, qui avait abrité le berceau de l'humble Sainte, on a fait une chapelle qui lui est dédiée.

On donne pour attributs à sainte Zita un trousseau de clefs suspendu à sa ceinture et une cruche : les clefs rappellent qu'elle fut investie de la confiance de ses maîtres, et la cruche, le miracle qu'elle fit de changer l'eau en vin au bénéfice des pauvres. On montre encore à Lucques le puits où elle prit de l'eau pour faire ce miracle. On l'a aussi représentée debout devant les portes de la ville, et la sainte Vierge venant lui ouvrir le guichet. La miséricordieuse Marie dut rendre ce service à sa servante un soir que celle-ci s'était attardée à ses bonnes œuvres. Une vieille gravure allemande la représente sous les traits d'une jeune fille accorte, revêtant le vieillard de la pelisse de son maître.

SOURCE : http://missel.free.fr/Sanctoral/04/27.php


Sainte Zite (ou Zita)

Servante

(† 1278)

Dans la modeste condition de servante, sainte Zite s'éleva jusqu'au sommet de la perfection. Nulle, plus qu'elle, n'eut à souffrir de ces promiscuités douteuses qui, de tout temps, ont été le fléau des grandes maisons; et nulle, à ce titre, ne mérite mieux qu'elle de servir de modèle et de patronne aux personnes en service qui veulent rester honnêtes.

Zite vint au monde en 1218, à Bozzanello, village près de Lucques. Ses parents n'étaient que de pauvres cultivateurs; mais ils étaient fervents chrétiens. Non plus que Jeanne d'Arc, Zite ne sut jamais lire ni écrire; nul autre que sa mère n'enseigna la doctrine chrétienne à cette sainte fille. Quand, par suite de sa vivacité naturelle ou de la légèreté de son âge, Zite se laissait aller à quelque chose de répréhensible, sa mère n'avait qu'à dire: «Ma fille, ce que tu fais déplaît à Dieu»: aussitôt l'enfant y renonçait.

Parvenue à l'âge de douze ans, Zite fut placée comme servante chez un riche commerçant de Lucques, nommé Pagano di Fatinelli. Elle ne vit dans son état qu'une plus grande facilité de se sanctifier, en menant une vie laborieuse et mortifiée; car on sait à quelles mortifications d'amour-propre silencieux est exposée à toute minute de la journée une pauvre servante, obligée, pour gagner sa vie, de satisfaire des caprices souvent contradictoires et parfois tyranniques. Fatinelli était bon, mais emporté; néanmoins la patience de la petite servante ne se démentit jamais. La volonté de ses maîtres fut toujours pour elle l'expression de la volonté de Dieu; elle ne montrait jamais ni hésitation ni mauvaise humeur. Il y avait en elle plus de support des défauts d'autrui et de vertu d'obéissance que dans beaucoup de personnes religieuses à vœux solennels.

Zite avait pour devise: «La main au travail, le cœur à Dieu!» Elle disait encore: «Une servante paresseuse ne doit pas être appelée pieuse: une personne de notre condition qui affecte d'être pieuse, sans être essentiellement laborieuse, n'a qu'une fausse piété. Travailler, c'est prier.» Zite avait la piété des saints, qui ne se contente pas de quelques pratiques extérieures, mais qui pénètre les profondeurs de l'âme. Elle n'était pas de celles qui sont plus promptes à prier qu'à pardonner, à aller à l'église qu'à vaquer aux devoirs de leur état, à donner une aumône qu'à réprimer leur langue ou à dompter leurs passions.

Tant de vertu n'était pas faite pour plaire au reste de la domesticité. Peu consciencieux dans leur service, les autres serviteurs de Fatinelli, ne pouvant faire de Zite leur complice, la calomnièrent. Dieu permit que ses maîtres ajoutassent foi aux mensonges: pendant plusieurs années, au lieu d'encouragements, la pauvre servante ne reçut que des reproches. Le maître finit enfin par reconnaître le mérite de sa servante; il lui abandonna dès lors l'administration de sa maison et lui confia l'éducation de ses enfants.

Avec le consentement de son maître, Zite se servit de sa charge pour faire l'aumône. En temps de disette, il lui arriva de puiser dans le grenier et même de l'épuiser complètement; un jour que Fatinelli venait de vendre sa provision de fèves à un haut prix, il appela Zite pour l'aider à les mesurer. La pauvre fille, toute tremblante, n'osait approcher: il se trouva que le grenier, vide l'instant d'auparavant, se trouva plein à déborder.–– Une autre fois, la veille de Noël, par un grand froid, Zite se disposait à aller à l'office de nuit. Par compassion, son maître lui prêta sa pelisse, en lui recommandant d'en avoir bien soin. Mais voilà que, sur les marches de l'église, Zite rencontre un miséreux transi de froid; aussitôt elle ôte le manteau et le lui tend en disant: «Prenez cette pelisse jusqu'à la fin de l'office, et vous me la rendrez à la sortie.» Le malheur est qu'à la sortie le mendiant avait disparu, et que Zite en fut réduite à avouer sa mésaventure à Fatinelli qui prit fort mal la chose; quand tout à coup apparaît le mendiant avec la pelisse. Après l'avoir rendue, il disparut sans se faire connaître.

Douce, humble, soumise envers tout le monde, Zite était d'un courage intrépide envers les libertins. Un des domestiques ayant voulu se permettre avec elle certaines libertés, elle lui déchira le visage.

Sainte Zite mourut le 27 avril 1278. Elle n'avait servi qu'un seul maître pendant toute sa vie.

J.-M. Planchet, Nouvelle Vie des Saints, 2e éd. Paris, 1946



Bernardo Strozzi. Le Miracle de sainte Zita


Sainte Zita
Vierge, servante
Patronne de Lucques
Zita naît dans le village de Bozzanello, près de Lucques, en Toscane, en 1218. Ses parents étaient de pauvres et pieux laboureurs.

Zita fut élevée par sa mère, une femme vertueuse et très modeste et, dès son plus jeune âge, était douce, modeste et docile à la volonté de Dieu.

Lorsqu’elle eut douze ans, son père l’envoyait régulièrement vendre des fruits à Lucques ; sa gentillesse lui attira une clientèle bienveillante et fidèle dont la famille des Fatinelli qui était une des plus riches de Lucques.
Zita avait dix-huit ans quand les Fatinelli proposèrent de la prendre à leur service.

Toute sa vie servante dans cette famille, elle y mena une vie édifiante par ses jeûnes, ses prières et sa bonté.
Pendant longtemps, elle fut injustement dénigrée, surchargée, humiliée et parfois battue par ses maîtres ou les autres domestiques pour sa trop grande bonté.
Mais ces brimades n’entamèrent jamais sa paix intérieure, l’amour porté à ses contempteurs ni le respect témoigné à ses employeurs.
Par son attitude humble et réservée, Zita finit par surmonter la méchanceté de ses maîtres et des autres domestiques au point qu’on lui confia toutes les affaires de la maison.
Sa Foi et sa piété sans faille amenèrent même la famille à un éveil religieux.

Zita s’éteignit paisiblement chez les Fatinelli le 27 Avril 1278. On raconte qu’une étoile est apparue au dessus de son lit lorsqu’elle expira.
Elle avait 60 ans et avait servi la famille pendant 48 ans.

Il s’opéra sur sa tombe de nombreux miracles dont 150 ont fait l’objet d’un examen critique et de procès verbaux. Exhumé en 1580, on a retrouvé son corps intact.

Canonisée en 1696 par le Pape Innocent XII (Antonio Pignatelli, 1691-1700), elle est devenue la sainte patronne de la ville de Lucques avec, comme attributs, un trousseau de clefs suspendu à sa ceinture et une cruche.
Elle est également la patronne des domestiques (cuisiniers, serveurs, serveuses, employés de maison...)
Son corps momifié est toujours exposé dans sa châsse-reliquaire placée dans la chapelle qui lui est dédiée dans la Basilique San Frediano de Lucques.
SOURCE : http://levangileauquotidien.org/main.php?language=FR&module=saintfeast&localdate=20160427&id=3634&fd=0


sitita : désirée... Il était porté naguère avec honneur par la dernière impératrice d'Autriche-Hongrie, qui dut s'exiler avec toute sa famille. Au XIIIe siècle, Zita vivait bien loin d'une Cour impériale. Elle est la sainte patronne des gens de maison, comme on disait, pour ne pas dire les domestiques. Fille de pauvres gens, elle devient servante dans la riche famille Fatinellli à Lucques en Toscane, au XIIIe siècle. Elle y restera toute sa vie, pendant presque cinquante ans, bonne à tout faire. Zita deviendra sainte dans le travail et le service quotidien. On disait autrefois cela de nos mères et grand-mères, "se sanctifiant par le devoir d'état", ces femmes usées de travail que notre société appelait des "sans profession".

Zita ne demandait qu'une seule faveur : rejoindre le Christ à la Messe chaque jour. Pour ce faire, elle se levait plus tôt pour pouvoir accomplir tout ce qu'elle avait à faire. 

Zita ne vivait pas au 7e ciel, mais au ras du sol ou mieux, en ce temps pascal, au ras des pâquerettes ! Elle était très exacte à tous ses emplois : ses prières, son travail très prenant jusqu'à la tombée de la nuit et son souci d'aider les plus pauvres. Sa manière de vivre ne manquait pas de susciter moqueries et médisances : surtout qu'elle avait coutume de prêter son lit à des femmes sans domicile fixe, dormant elle-même sur le carreau de sa chambrette. Elle supportait avec humour les critiques, allant jusqu'à remercier et embrasser les envieuses. A la fin de sa vie, usée par les tâches ménagères d'une immense maison, elle subira de grandes souffrances, supportées avec la vaillance, la sérénité et la bonne humeur qui furent les dominantes de sa vie. Sainte Zita entra dans la joie de son Maître, recevant la récompense du bon et fidèle serviteur, le 27 avril 1278.

Rédacteur: Frère Bernard Pineau, OP



St. Zita

Model and heavenly patroness of domestic servants, born early in the thirteenth century of a poor family at Montsegradi, a little village near Lucca, in Tuscany; died at Lucca, 27 April, 1271. A naturally happy disposition and the teaching of a virtuous mother, aided by Divine grace, developed in the child's soul that sweetness and modesty of character and continual and conscientious application to work which constituted her especial virtues. At the age of twelve she entered the service of the Fatinelli family of Lucca. Her piety and the exactitude with which she discharged her domestic duties, in which she regarded herself as serving God rather than man, even supplying the deficiencies of her fellow servants, far from gaining for her their love and esteem and that of her employers rather brought upon her every manner of ill-treatment of both the former and, through their accusations, of the latter. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her respect for her employers. By this meek and humble self-restraint she at last succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house.


In her position of command over all the servants she treated all with kindness, not exacting from them any reckoning for the wrongs she had for so many years suffered from them. She was always circumspect, and only severe when there was a question of checking the introduction of vice among the servants. On the other hand, if any of them had been guilty of shortcomings, she took upon herself to excuse or defend them to their employers. Using the ample authority given her by her employers, she was generous in almsgiving, but careful to assist only those really in need. After her death numerous miracles were wrought at her intercession, so that she came to bevenerated as a saint in the neighbourhood of Lucca, and the poets Fazio degli Uberti (Dittamonde, III, 6) andDante (Inferno, XI, 38) both designate the city of Lucca simply as "Santa Zita". The office in her honour was approved by Leo X.

In 1580 her tomb was discovered in the Church of S. Frediano; thus was suggested the solemn approbation of her cult, which was granted by Innocent XII in 1696. The earliest biography of the saint is preserved in an anonymous manuscript belonging to the Fatinelli family which was published at Ferrara in 1688 by MonsignorFatinelli, "Vita beatf Zitf virginis Lucensis ex vetustissimo codice manuscripto fideliter transumpta". For his fuller "Vita e miracoli di S. Zita vergine lucchese" (Lucca, 1752) Bartolomeo Fiorito has used this and other notices, especially those taken from the process drawn up to prove the immemorial cult.

Benigni, Umberto. "St. Zita." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 15 Mar. 2015<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15762a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Paul T. Crowley. Dedicated to John and Maureen Crowley.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.



St. Zita

Born: c.1218

Died: April 27, 1278

Canonized: 1696

Feast Day: April 27

Patron Saint of: domestic workers, maids, lost keys

Zita is also known as Sitha and Citha.

Zita came from a poor, but deeply devotional family. The lack of social standing is probably the reason Zita's last name has not been recorded in history. To help support the family, she became a maid of a wealthy family, Fatinelli, in the Tuscan city of Lucca, serving them loyally for 48 years.

From and early age, Zita expressed concern for the poor and helpless of Lucca. As her reputation spread, the needy began to seek her out. This did not sit well with the Fatinelli family, as time spent with the poor was not time spent in her maid servant duties. As the story goes, the Lord intervened as necessary. On one such event, Zita left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need. Some of the other servants made sure the Fatinelli family was aware of what happened. When they went to investigate, they found angels in the Fatinelli kitchen, picking up Zita's slack. From that point on, the Fatinelli family and even the other servants were a little more understanding toward her mission. On another event, Zita had given away the family's supply of beans to the townsfolk during a severe famine. Upon suspecting this, the Fatinelli family went to the cupboard to find it full - the beans hand been miracuously replaced. Another recorded event was as dramatic, if not more so. On Christmas Eve, Zita had given away a prized and treasured family cloak to a shivering man at the doorway of St. Fredaino, the local church. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. While the elder Fatinelli was in the midst of a fit of fury, an elderly man came to the door and returned the heirloom. When townsfolk heard of the event, they decided that the man must have been an angel. From that point on, the doorway of the St. Fredaino church in Lucca has been called the "Angel Portal".

Besides being the patron saint for domestic workers and maids, she's the one to ask to help find lost keys.


ST ZITA, VIRGIN

Feast: April 27

She was born in the beginning of the thirteenth century at Montsegradi, a village near Lucca in Italy. She was brought up with the greatest care, in the fear of God, by her poor virtuous mother, whose early and constant attention to inspire the tender heart of her daughter with religious sentiments seemed to find no obstacles, either from private passions or the general corruption of nature, so easily were they prevented or overcome. Zita had no sooner attained the use of reason, and was capable of knowing and loving God, than her heart was no longer able to relish any other object, and she seemed never to lose sight of him in her actions. Her mother reduced all her instructions to two short heads, and never had occasion to use any further remonstrance to enforce her lessons than to say, "This is most pleasing to God; this is the divine will"; or, "That would displease God."

The sweetness and modesty of the young child charmed everyone who saw her. She spoke little, and was most assiduous at her work; but her business never seemed to interrupt her prayers. At twelve years of age she was put to service in the family of a citizen of Lucca, called Fatinelli, whose house was contiguous to the church of St. Frigidian. She was thoroughly persuaded that labour is enjoined all men as a punishment of sin, and as a remedy for the spiritual disorders of their souls; and far from ever harbouring in her breast the least uneasiness, or expressing any sort of complaint under contradictions, poverty, and hardships, and still more from ever entertaining the least idle, inordinate, or worldly desire, she blessed God for placing her in a station in which she was supplied with the most effectual means to promote her sanctification, by the necessity of employing herself in penitential labour, and of living in a perpetual conformity and submission of her will to others. She was also very sensible of the advantages of her state, which afforded all necessaries of life, without engaging her in the anxious cares and violent passions by which worldly persons, who enjoy most plentifully the goods of fortune, are often disturbed; whereby their souls resemble a troubled sea, always agitated by impetuous storms, without knowing the sweetness of a true calm. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance; and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.

Notwithstanding her extreme attention to her exterior employments, she acquired a wonderful facility of joining with them almost continual mental prayer and of keeping her soul constantly attentive to the divine presence. Who would not imagine that such a person should have been esteemed and beloved by all who knew her?

Nevertheless, by the appointment of divine providence, for her great spiritual advantage, it fell out quite otherwise and for several years she suffered the harshest trials. Her modesty was called by her fellow-servants simplicity, and want of spirit and sense; and her diligence was judged to have no other spring than affectation and secret pride. Her mistress was a long time extremely prepossessed against her, and her passionate master could not bear her in his sight without transports of rage.

It is not to be conceived how much the saint had continually to suffer in this situation. So unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten, she never repined nor lost her patience; but always preserved the same sweetness in her countenance, and the same meekness and charity in her heart and words, and abated nothing of her application to her duties. A virtue so constant and so admirable at length overcame jealousy, antipathy, prepossession, and malice.

Her master and mistress discovered the treasure which their family possessed in the fidelity and example of the humble saint, and the other servants gave due praise to her virtue. Zita feared this prosperity more than adversity, and trembled lest it should be a snare to her soul. But sincere humility preserved her from its dangers; and her behaviour, amidst the caresses and respect shown her, continued the same as when she was ill-treated and held in derision; she was no less affable, meek, and modest; no less devout, nor less diligent or ready to serve everyone. Being made housekeeper, and seeing her master and mistress commit to her with an entire confidence the government of their family and management of all their affairs, she was most scrupulously careful in point of economy, remembering that she was to give to God an account of the least farthing of what was intrusted as a depositum in her .hands; and, though head-servant, she never allowed herself the least privilege or exemption in her work on that account.

She used often to say to others that devotion is false if slothful. Hearing a man-servant speak one immodest word, she was filled with horror, and procured him to be immediately discharged from the family. With David, she desired to see it composed only of such whose approved piety might draw down a benediction of God upon the whole house and be a security to the master for their fidelity and good example. She kept fast the whole year, and often on bread and water; and took her rest on the bare floor or on a board. Whenever business allowed her a little leisure, she spent it in holy prayer and contemplation in a little retired room in the garret; and at her work repeated frequently ardent ejaculations of divine love, with which her soul appeared always inflamed. She respected her fellow-servants as her superiors. If she was sent on commissions a mile or two in the greatest storms, she set out without delay, executed them punctually, and returned often almost drowned, without showing any sign of reluctance or murmuring.

By her virtue she gained so great an ascendant over her master that a single word would often suffice to check the greatest transports of his rage; and she would sometimes cast herself at his feet to appease him in favour of others. She never kept anything for herself but the poor garments which she wore: everything else she gave to the poor. Her master, seeing his goods multiply, as it were, in her hands, gave her ample leave to bestow liberal alms on the poor, which she made use of with discretion, but was scrupulous to do nothing without his express authority. If she heard others spoken ill of, she zealously took upon her their defence and excused their faults.

Always when she communicated, and often when she heard mass, and on other occasions, she melted in sweet tears of divine love: she was often favoured with ecstasies during her prayers. In her last sickness she clearly foretold her death, and having prepared herself for her passage by receiving the last sacraments, and by ardent signs of love, she happily expired on the 27th of April, in 1272, being sixty years old: one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession have been juridically proved. Her body was found entire in 1580 and is kept with great respect in St. Frigidian's church, richly enshrined; her face and hands are exposed naked to view through a crystal glass. Pope Leo X granted an office in her honour. The city of Lucca pays a singular veneration to her memory.

The solemn decree of her beatification was published by Innocent XII in 1696, with the confirmation of her immemorial veneration. See her life, compiled by a contemporary writer, and published by Papebroke, the Bollandist, on the 27th of April, p. 497, and Benedict XIV De Canoniz. lib. ii. c. 24, p. 245.

(Taken from Vol. IV of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)

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Saint Zita (c. 1212 – 27 April 1272) is the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys.

Born at Monte Sagrati, Italy, she entered into the service of the Fratinelli family, wool dealers in Lucca, at the age of twelve. Immediately disliked by the other servants for her hard work and obvious goodness, she earned their special enmity because of her habit of giving away food and clothing to the poor including those of her employers. 

In time, she won over the members of the household.

According to one tradition, the other servants were convinced when one day they found an angel taking Zita’s place in baking and cleaning. 

Throughout her life she labored on behalf of the poor and suffering as well as criminals languishing in prisons. She was also credited with a variety of miracles. Canonized in 1696, she is depicted in art with a bag and keys, or loaves of bread

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-zita/




Zita of Lucca V (RM)
(also known as Sitha, Citha)


Born at Monte Sagrati, near Lucca, Tuscany, Italy; died in Lucca on April 27, 1278; liturgical cultus permitted locally by Leo X (early 16th century); canonized in 1696; name added to the Roman Martyrology in 1748 by Benedict XIV.


For two hundred years before and after the crowning of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800 AD, female saints were obscured by time and circumstance. Thereafter, in the Age of Mysticism from about 1000 to 1500, we witness the re-emergence of saintly female mystics, such as Hildegard and Catherine of Siena.

Christian mysticism is an endeavor to reach a knowledge of and union with God directly and experientially. The mystic renounces his senses and the images they offer of God, seeking instead to wander down a negative road. Often, this type of contemplative prayer leads to abnormal psychic states that culminate in ecstasy, which is sanctified when perfectly united with God. The individuals who reach this state normally exhibit extraordinary self-knowledge and become fully free, unique human beings. The heightened mystical sense also leads to an ever more passionate love of God.

As will be shown frequently in these biographies of the saints, the mystical life in no way conflicts with the duties of any Christian state of life: married (e.g., Francis of Rome), avowed celibate (Saint Teresa of Avila), or domestic servant.

Saint Zita was born in a mountain village near Lucca into a very devout family. Her elder sister became a Cistercian nun and her uncle, Graziano, was a hermit who was locally regarded as a saint. From the age of 12, Zita was a domestic servant in the family of Pagano di Fatinelli of Lucca, a wool and silk merchant. This devoted woman, who was deeply religious, remained with this family all her life. She served it for 48 years--as maid servant, then housekeeper, and governess--and every member of the family had the deepest respect and affection for her.

There are numerous stories of her attention to household duties, of her care for beggars, of her devotion to religious practices, and of the fidelity with which she attended Mass each day of her adult life at the Church of San Frediano. The good food she was provided by her employer, she would distribute to the poor. More often than not, she could be found sleeping on the bare ground or lost in prayer, after having given up her bed to a beggar. Her work was part of her religion, as it should be for us, a way of serving God in our neighbor.

At first her fellow servants mocked her piety and kindness. Zita paid no attention, and in the end they grew to admire her. But her master was often irritated that she gave away so much. During a local famine she secretly gave away much of the family supply of beans. When her master inspected the kitchen cupboards, to Zita's relief the beans had been miraculously restocked (recall the similar story about Saint Frances of Rome). Another story tells that angels baked her bread while she was rapt in ecstasy

A characteristic story of her generous nature is of how one Christmas Eve, when she was setting out for the early morning service, the cold was so intense that her employer, seeing her in her thin gown, wrapped his own fur cloak round her shoulders, and insisted on her taking it. "But take care of it," he said, "and be sure to bring it back." At the church door, however, Zita saw a poor man in rags, numb with cold and begging for alms. She could never resist a beggar and on the impulse of the moment she took off her master's cloak and put it round him. "It will keep you warm," she said, "and you can return it to me when the service is over." But when she came out of the church, the man had gone, and in great distress she returned home without the cloak. Her employer, naturally, was angry, but what troubled Zita most was that, out of pity for another, she had abused his kindness.

The story had a happy sequel, for the next day a stranger came to the door and restored the missing cloak. People later decided that the poor old man must have been an angel in disguise, and so the door of the Church of San Frediano, Lucca, where he first appeared, is called the Angel Portal.

Zita was always moved by generous impulse, and endeared herself to all by her compassionate nature, and all her life long she was sustained by a simple and strong faith in God. Zita was embarrassed by the veneration in which her employers and neighbors held her later in life. Nevertheless, she was happy that some of her domestic duties were relieved because it gave her the time to tend to the sick, the poor, and prisoners. She had a special devotion to criminals awaiting execution, on whose behalf she would spend hours in prayer.

Zita died peacefully at the age of 60, having sanctified herself in a life of humble domestic tasks, and as the little Maid of Lucca is numbered among the saints. Immediately, a popular cultus developed around her tomb at San Frediano. Her cultus spread to other countries in the later Middle Ages, as testified by chapels in her honor as scattered as vat Palermo, Sicily, and Ely, England (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Encyclopedia, Martindale, Walsh, White).

In art, Saint Zita is depicted in the working clothes of a maid servant with her emblem: keys. She may be shown (1) with a rosary, bag, and keys; (2) with a rosary; (3) with two keys and three loaves; (4) with keys and a book; (5) with a basket of fruit; (6) with a bag and book; (7) with a book and rosary; or (8) praying at a well (Roeder, White). She appears in mural paintings (Shorthampton, Oxon.), in stained glass (Mells and Langport, Somerset), and on rood screens in Norfolk (Barton Turf), Suffolk (Somerleyton), and Devon (Ashton) (Farmer).

Saint Zita is the patroness of housewives and servants. In England, she was known as Sitha and invoked by housewives and servants searching for lost keys or crossing raging rivers (White). She is still venerated at Lucca, where her body is housed in the Cappella di Santa Zita in the church of San Frediano (Jepson, Roeder).



Félix Gaudin. Sainte Zita, vitrail , église Saint-Honoré d'Eylau, Paris

April 27
St. Zita, Virgin

SHE was born in the beginning of the thirteenth century, at Montsegradi, a village near Lucca, in Italy. She was brought up with the greatest care, in the fear of God, by her poor virtuous mother, whose early and constant attention to inspire the tender heart of her daughter with religious sentiments seemed to find no obstacles, either from private passions or the general corruption of nature; so easily were they prevented or overcome. Zita had no sooner attained the use of reason, and was capable of knowing and loving God, than her heart was no longer able to relish any other object, and she seemed never to lose sight of him in her actions. Her mother reduced all her instructions to two short heads, and never had occasion to use any further remonstrance to enforce her lessons than to say: “This is most pleasing to God; this is the divine will,” or, “That would displease God.” The sweetness and modesty of the young child charmed every one who saw her. She spoke little, and was most assiduous at her work, but her business never seemed to interrupt her prayers. At twelve years of age she was put to service in the family of a citizen of Lucca, called Fatinelli, whose house was contiguous to the church of St. Frigidian. She was thoroughly persuaded that labour is enjoined all men as a punishment of sin, and as a remedy for the spiritual disorders of their souls: and, far from ever harbouring in her breast the least uneasiness, or expressing any sort of complaint under contradictions, poverty, and hardships, and still more from ever entertaining the least idle, inordinate, or worldly desire, she blessed God for placing her in a station in which she was supplied with the most effectual means to promote her sanctification, by the necessity of employing herself in penitential labour, and of living in a perpetual conformity and submission of her will to others. She was also very sensible of the advantages of her state, which afforded all necessaries of life, without engaging her in the anxious cares and violent passions by which worldly persons, who enjoy most plentifully the goods of fortune, are often disturbed; whereby their souls resemble a troubled sea, always agitated by impetuous storms, without knowing the sweetness of a true calm. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance; and obeyed her master and mistress in all things, as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family, and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion, before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them. Notwithstanding her extreme attention to her exterior employments, she acquired a wonderful facility of joining with them almost continual mental prayer, and of keeping her soul constantly attentive to the divine presence. Who would not imagine that such a person should have been esteemed and beloved by all who knew her? Nevertheless, by the appointment of divine providence, for her great spiritual advantage, it fell out quite otherwise, and for several years she suffered the harshest trials. Her modesty was called by her fellow-servants simplicity, and want of spirit and sense; and her diligence was judged to have no other spring than affectation and secret pride. Her mistress was a long time extremely prepossessed against her, and her passionate master could not bear her in his sight without transports of rage. It is not to be conceived how much the saint had continually to suffer in this situation. So unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten, she never repined nor lost her patience; but always preserved the same sweetness in her countenance, and the same meekness and charity in her heart and words, and abated nothing of her application to her duties. A virtue so constant and so admirable, at length overcame jealousy, antipathy, prepossession, and malice. Her master and mistress discovered the treasure which their family possessed in the fidelity and example of the humble saint, and the other servants gave due praise to her virtue. Zita feared this prosperity more than adversity, and trembled lest it should be a snare to her soul. But sincere humility preserved her from its dangers; and her behaviour, amidst the caresses and respect shown her, continued the same as when she was ill-treated and held in derision; she was no less affable, meek, and modest; no less devout, nor less diligent or ready to serve every one. Being made housekeeper, and seeing her master and mistress commit to her, with an entire confidence, the government of their family and management of all their affairs, she was most scrupulously careful in point of economy, remembering that she was to give to God an account of the least farthing of what was intrusted as a depositum in her hands; and, though head-servant, she never allowed herself the least privilege or exemption in her work on that account. She used often to say to others, that devotion is false if slothful. Hearing a man-servant speak one immodest word, she was filled with horror, and procured him to be immediately discharged from the family. With David, she desired to see it composed only of such whose approved piety might drawn down a benediction of God upon the whole house, and be a security to the master for their fidelity and good example. She fasted the whole year, and often on bread and water; and took her rest on the bare floor, or on a board. Whenever business allowed her a little leisure, she spent it in holy prayer and contemplation in a little retired room in the garret; and at her work repeated frequently ardent ejaculations of divine love, with which her soul appeared always inflamed. She respected her fellow-servants as her superiors. If she were sent on commissions a mile or two in the greatest storms, she set out without delay, executed them punctually, and returned often almost drowned, without showing any sign of reluctance or murmuring. By her virtue she gained so great an ascendant over her master, that a single word would often suffice to check the greatest transports of his rage; and she would sometimes cast herself at his feet to appease him in favour of others. She never kept anything for herself but the poor garments which she wore; every thing else she gave to the poor. Her master, seeing his goods multiply, as it were, in her hands, gave her ample leave to bestow liberal alms on the poor; which she made use of with discretion, but was scrupulous to do nothing without his express authority. If she heard others spoken ill of, she zealously took upon her their defence, and excused their faults. Always when she communicated, and often when she heard mass, and on other occasions, she melted in sweet tears of divine love: she was often favoured with ecstacies during her prayers. In her last sickness, she clearly foretold her death, and having prepared herself for her passage by receiving the last sacraments, and by ardent sighs of love, she happily expired on the 27th of April, in 1272, being sixty years old: one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession have been juridically proved. Her body was found entire in 1580, and is kept with great respect in St. Frigidian’s church, richly enshrined; her face and hands are exposed naked to view through a crystal glass. Pope Leo X. granted an office in her honour. The city of Lucca pays a singular veneration to her memory. The solemn decree of her beatification was published by Innocent XII. in 1696, with the confirmation of her immemorial veneration. See her life compiled by a contemporary writer, and published by Papebroke the Bollandist, on the 27th of April, p. 497, and Benedict XIV. De Canoniz. l. 2, c. 24, p. 245.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/4/273.html

Santa Zita (Cita) Vergine


Nacque da una famiglia molto umile. A 12 anni dovette andare come domestica presso la nobile casa dei Fatinelli, a Lucca. Attenta e puntigliosa nell'attività lavorativa, sopportava angherie e rimproveri dei padroni, che la trattavano come una «serva». Inoltre, spesso doveva coprire con il suo impegno le manchevolezze degli altri domestici. La sua gentilezza d'animo finì per conquistare l'affetto della famiglia che le affidò la direzione della casa. Ne approfittò per aiutare le persone più povere senza mai sottrarre nulla agli altri. Metteva da parte quanto riusciva a risparmiare per soccorrere le persone bisognose. Morì il 27 aprile 1272. La sua fama si diffuse in breve tempo, tanto che i cittadini di Lucca chiesero che venisse sepolta nella Basilica di San Frediano dov'è tuttora custodita. Il suo culto fu approvato nel 1696 da Papa Innocenzo XII. Venne proclamata patrona delle domestiche da Pio XII. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Casalinghe, Serve, Fornai

Etimologia: Zita = (forse) vergine, dal persiano

Emblema: Chiavi, Giglio

Martirologio Romano: A Lucca, santa Zita, vergine, che, di umili natali, fu per dodici anni domestica in casa della famiglia Fatinelli e in questo servizio perseverò con straordinaria pazienza fino alla morte.

Santa Zita nacque nel 1218 da una povera famiglia di Monsagrati, in diocesi di Lucca. Dall’età di appena dodici anni fu al servizio della nobile famiglia dei Fatinelli a Lucca. Sempre contraddistinta da un forte senso del dovere, gioiosa ed umile di carattere, visse ammirevolmente gli ideali e le virtù evangeliche, assorta nell’assidua contemplazione dei divini misteri. Seppe ben coniugare la sua austerità di vita con una carità sempre vigile verso il prossimo più indigente. Una leggenda narra come un'altra domestica dei Fatinelli, invidiosa dell'affetto ricevuto da Zita, avrebbe iniziato ad insinuare nella mente del capo famiglia il sospetto che ella rubasse in casa quanto donava ai poveri; un giorno il padrone, incontrando Zita con il grembiule gonfio mentre si recava da una famiglia bisognosa, le avrebbe chiesto cosa portasse; nonostante questo fosse pieno di pane, Zita rispose che portava solo fiori e fronde, che caddero infatti sciogliendo il grembiule. Nel 1278 morì raggiungendo così lo Sposo celeste.

I lucchesi vollero che le sue spoglie trovassero degna sepoltura nella basilica di San Frediano. Zita era già così venerata in Toscana da essere citata da Dante Alighieri nella Divina Commedia poco dopo la morte, facendo riferimento ad un magistrato di Lucca detto “anzian di santa Zita”, identificando così Lucca con la donna che ancora non era stata canonizzata dalla Chiesa. Papa Innocenzo XII nel 1695 ne ratificò e confermò il culto. Il Venerabile Pio XII nel 1955 dichiarò solennemente “la vergine Santa Zita Patrona presso Dio delle domestiche e di tutte le donne addette alla cura della casa”. La santa è titolare della congregazione femminile delle Suore Oblate dello Spirito Santo, detta anche Istituto di Santa Zita.

Oltre all'Arcidiocesi di Lucca, anche la Diocesi di Massa Carrara - Pontremoli commemora al 27 aprile questa santa in quanto suo padre è considerato dalla tradizione originario del Borgo di Succisa, nel comune di Pontremoli, dove ancora esiste una piccola cappella eretta in suo onore.

Autore: Fabio Arduino