|Cascia is the small Italian town that is forever associated with the name of the Augustinian nun, Saint Rita O.S.A.
Clustered on the side of a steep hill, the delightful town of Cascia is remote.
Located in the most mountainous part of Umbria, it is situated at 563 m above sea level near the Corno river in the southeastern corner of the Umbria region of central Italy.
Cascia was founded during Roman times, but nothing remains from then because of devastation by barbaric tribes and by a number of earthquakes that have disturbed the town and the neighbouring cities.
It suffered from very destructive earthquakes in 1599 and 1703.
Along with most of the towns of the region of Umbria, Cascia experienced its period of major splendour during the Middle Ages.
Finally, at the beginning of the 16th century, Cascia surrendered to the territory controlled by the Pope, under whose rule it remained for less than thirty years.
After that, Cascia has always maintained its independence. Its principal claim to fame is as the home of Saint Rita, who was born in nearby Roccaporena in 1381 and died there in 1457.
After her canonisation as a saint of the Catholic Church in the year 1900, a large Santuario (shrine) to her was built in the town, which is an important place of pilgrimage.
It is one of the most visited sanctuaries in Italy.
The major annual celebration in honor of Saint Rita takes place each May, when the whole side of the mountain flickers with the lights of thousands of candles in an evening procession to the Santuario.
The Santuario of Saint Rita was completed in its present form in 1948.
There is to be seen the tomb of Rita. Through its glass sides can be seen the body of Rita, which has not corrupted.
Because Saint Rita is the most popular Italian female saint, the Santuario draws a number of tourists for religious reasons.
Memories of the saint are preserved in the adjoining Monastero of Saint Rita (twelfth century), in the oldest section of which Saint Rita lived.
A fresco of Jesus on the Cross in front of which she prayed is still visible. As well, the house where she was born may still be visited.
The town has about 3,200 residents. Enclosed Augustinians nuns still occupy the monastery where Saint Rita was in charge.
A community of Augustinian priests lives in the town and ministers at the Santuario.
For Augnet images of the Shrine of St Rita at Cascia, choose the gallery named Italy: Cascia after you click here.
Map locator. Type in the word "Cascia."