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This basilica is located at a lower level than the main church, hence its name. It has little artistic attractions, apart from the painting of the Christ you see in this photo. Instead, it is interesting from the religious point of view, as it keeps the so-called Eucharistic Miracle (a particle that turned into blood after a priest had put it into his breviary), the relics of Blessed Simone Fidati (1285-1348), who brought the Miracle to Cascia, and the tomb of Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce(1881-1947), a nun who spread the message of Santa Rita, ran an orphanage and did other remarkable actions.
The last picture shows Christ in the sepulchre with a crib above it.
Updated Mar 8, 2008
This sculptured fountain is called "Source of Life": the pigeons drink the water that flows out of the rocks. It represents the love of God.
Written Mar 8, 2008
The inside of Santa Rita's basilica has a Greek-cross shape with a central dome and four apses. Everything is painted. Notice the apsis painting and the series of paintings telling the life of the Saint, above the columns. Worth remarking are also the sculptured altar and lectern.
It is forbidden to take photos inside, but most people take a lot of pictures, even with flash. It would be nice if you respected the forbid or if, at least, turned the flash off. I have taken a couple of pictures myself, but from the entrance and without flash, so that I didn't hurt anyone. Consider that most people go to this church to pray, so behave in a proper way.
Written Mar 8, 2008
The construction of the present sanctuary, based on the project by Mgr. Spirito Chiappetta (changed later on by G. Calori and G. Martinenghi), started on 20th June 1937 thanks to Cardinal Enrico Gasparri. The church was consecrated on 18th May 1947 and was turned into a basilica by Pius XII on 1st August 1955.
On the façade you see a cross supported by six angels. Above it, an inscription say A.D. MCMXLIII (1943), the year when the construction was finished. The inscription above the gate says
Salve Rita vas amoris, sponsa Christi dolorosa
tu de spinis Salvatoris pulchris nasceris ut rosa
“Hail Rita pot of love, painful Bride of Christ
from the thorns of Our Saviour you were born as beautiful as a rose”.
At both sides of the portal, there are ten episodes of the Saint’s life, sculptured by Eros Pellini.
Written Jan 8, 2008
If you aren't travelling with your own car (the best solution to move across this region), you can reach Cascia by bus from both Spoleto (around 50 kms) and Rome (around 150 kms). Buses are run by Spoletina (SSIT). You can find the timetables in the site below, which is unfortunately only in Italian.
The bus stop in Cascia is located in the upper part, close to the sanctuary of Santa Rita. To go to the lower part, just take the stairs down (elevators only let you climb).
Updated Apr 4, 2011
The best way to move in Cascia, besides your feet, are the escalators that connect the village to the hill where the sanctuary of Santa Rita is located. You can use them to reach the museum (Palazzo Sarti) as well. Escalators are free and don't pollute, so take them whenever you are tired of walking.
Remark: escalators remain still when nobody is using them, so don't think they don't work if they don't move! You must put your foot on them and you'll climb!
Updated Dec 31, 2007
Rita was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, a small village 5 kms from Cascia. Around the age of 16, she got married to Paolo di Ferdinando Mancini: they had two sons. The murder of her husband, victim of the fight between the opposing factions, turned her life upside down, but she was able to forgive. Her sons, instead, wanted to avenge the father’s death but Rita prayed God to take them to Himself rather than let them commit such an action. So, both of them died very young.
Later, Rita, who was still young, asked to be accepted at the Augustinian monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena in Cascia. At first she wasn’t allowed to join the order, but she finally managed to become a nun. She spent 40 years in the convent. In her last 15 years of life, she got on her front the stigmata of one of the thorns that formed Jesus’ crowns, so she felt on herself the pain Jesus had suffered.
Rita Mancini died on 22nd May 1457. She was declared Saint by Pope Leo XIII on 24th May 1900.
Written Jan 7, 2008