From The Church's Most Powerful Novenas:
Rita Lotti was born near Cascia in Italy in the fourteenth century, the only child of her parents, Antonio and Amata. Her parents were official peacemakers in a turbulent environment of feuding families.
At an early age Rita felt called to religious life; however, her parents arranged for her to be married to Paolo Mancini. Rita accepted this as God’s will for her, and the newlyweds were soon blessed with two sons.
One day while on his way home, Paolo was killed. Rita’s grief was compounded with the fear that her two sons would seek to avenge their father’s death, as was the custom of the time. She began praying and fasting that God would not allow this to happen. Both sons soon fell ill and died, which Rita saw as an answer to her prayers.
Now alone in the world, Rita sought to enter religious life, feeling that God had cleared the path for her to fulfill the vocation that she had felt was hers from childhood. Yet she found that the convent she so desired to enter was reluctant to accept her due to fears that the political rivals that had killed her husband would bring violence on them.
She finally brought peace between the rivals and was able to enter the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene of the Augustinian Nuns. In religious life, Rita was noted for her holiness. She spent her days not only in prayer and contemplation but also in service to the sick and the poor.
One day while kneeling in prayer and contemplating the passion of Jesus, she received the wound of one thorn from the crown of thorns that she bore until her death some fifteen years later.
Devotion to St. Rita was almost nonexistent for five hundred years, but with her canonization in 1900, all of that has changed. She is truly a saint for every state in life, having spent her life as a married woman, a mother, a widow, and a religious.