April 27

If you have lost your keys, or if you are a domestic worker, particularly an abused one, I advise you to have recourse to the saintly powers of  Zita of Lucca.

At the age of 12, Zica became a servant in the Fatinelli household where she laboured for the rest of her life. Despised at first by her employers and her fellow servants (who found her too industrious) she eventually overcame their opposition by unfailing kindness and dutifulness.

Zita was known for giving her own food (or that of her master) to the poor. One day, when she had neglected her baking in order to care for someone in need, one of her spiteful colleagues ratted on her to the Fatinellis. However, when they came to investigate they found angels in the kitchen, baking the bread for her.

By the time of her death, she had become venerated by the family she served and revered in her town. Her fame spread so quickly and widely that Dante, in his Inferno, referred to Lucca as “Santa Zita”. After 150 miracles had been attributed to Zita’s intercession and recognized by the church, she was canonized in 1696. Her body was exhumed in 1580 and discovered to be incorrupt. Saint Zita’s mummified remains are currently on display in the Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca.

On this, her feast day, Italian families bake a loaf of bread in celebration of her career of service and piety. She is the patron of servants of all sorts, those who have lost their keys, and the city of Lucca. Zita is a model for those who live lives of little outward distinction but of great devotion to their tasks and integrity.

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