By Maggie Bell

April 27 is the feast day of Santa Zita, who was born into poverty in 1208 in the Tuscan town of Monsagrati (where a chapel now stands at the site of her birth). At the age of twelve she entered into domestic service for the Fatinelli family, where she was treated cruelly.  Zita’s stories resembles that of other holy women in the Middle Ages–she espoused rigorous daily devotion, and dedicated herself to feeding the poor with her own food, or that of her master’s.  Bernardo Strozzi depicts one of her most frequently represented miracles, in which she is caught leaving the house with bread to give to the poor.  When asked by her master what she is carrying in her apron, she states “roses and flowers” referring to spiritual flowering inspired by charity.  When asked to open her apron, the pieces of bread are miraculously turned into flowers. Zita is the patron saint of domestic workers, and can be invoked when searching for lost keys. 

Further Reading

Giulio Giambene, SANTA ZITA, Treccani–Enciclopedia Italiana

The body of Santa Zita, in the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca 

Bernardo Strozzi, Miracle of Santa Zita, 17th century

Festival of Santa Zita in Succisa, 2013

Oratory of Santa Zita in Monsagrati, constructed in 1864 

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