Saints and Theology of the Heart - St. John Baptiste de La Salle

Patron of Domestic Servants

Feast: April 7

She was born near Lucca, Italy in 1218 and died in Lucca on April 27, 1278

Her family was poor but very devout.  Her older brother entered a Cistercian convent and her uncle was a hermit with a popular fame for holiness. She did not have money and her last name is not known.  Nevertheless, she achieved the only thing that is necessary for one’s life to be a true success: holiness.

In order to provide for her family,  at the age of 12 she became a servant of the Fatinelli, a rich family of Lucca, and served them for the rest of her life, for 48 years.

From the time she was little she demonstrated a great love for all, especially the poor and abandoned.   This did not agree much with the Fatinelli family.  But the Lord intervened.  On one occasion, Zita went to serve a needy person, leaving momentarily her work in the kitchen.  Other servants told the Fatinelli family about it, but when the went to the kitchen to investigate, they found angels doing her work.  From that day they allowed her more freedom to serve the poor.  It did not, however, stop the mockery and attacks  of the other servants. 

At a time when hunger plagued the city, Zita had the custom of sharing everything she had, including her food, with the poor.  But the need was very great, so she shared the grain supply of the family with the poor. When the family went to investigate the found the dispensary full of grain.  There were many such miraculous incidences in her life.  On the vespers of Christmas, Zita found that, in the doorway of the Church of San Fredaino, a man was shivering from the cold.  She took a valuable cloak of the family and gave it to him, advising him that he should return it after the Mass so that she could return it to her master.  But the man disappeared.  This was too much for Lady Fatinelli, who the next day she flew into a temper against Zita. She was like this when an old man came to the door and returned the cloak.  The people said that this old man was an angel, and since then the door of San Fredaino is called “The door of the Angel”.

Zita had a particular devotion for prisoners condemned to death. 

She died at the age of 60 and immediately her cult was propogated, especially in Palerma, Sicily, and other parts of Italy and England.
Her body in venerated in the chapel of Saint Zita in the Church of San Frediano in Lucca, Italy.


-Catholic Encyclopedia (our translation)
-other sources

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