Saint Zita, the patron saint of domestic workers, was born in Tuscany in a village near the city of Lucca, Italy, about 1218. Her family was poor, but pious, and her mother was credited as a great teacher of the faith. Zita’s mother taught her to consider whatever work she undertook as assigned to her by God, and to take on even the most burdensome or tedious of tasks as penance.At age 12, Zita was sent to a wealthy family in Lucca to work as a member of the household staff. She was a quiet, prayerful child, and was known to be a very hard worker, responsible, respectful and conscientious. Each day she woke up earlier than the family or staff and spent time in prayer. She then went to Mass before taking on her assigned duties of the day.Zita’s employers scoffed at her piety, and her fellow servants resented her hard work and industriousness. As a vulnerable young girl, she was mistreated, beaten and abused, both mentally and physically. But Zita endured the wrongs done to her with courage, perseverance and a prayerful determination to maintain an inner peace. By her humble self-restraint, she succeeded in overcoming the harsh malice, and in time, the family appointed her chief steward over all household affairs and domestic staff. Indeed, her faith-filled witness brought the entire family to a religious conversion.Zita was considered an excellent manager of the household, and noted for her kindness, generosity and compassion. In her later years, she was practically venerated by the family. She died peacefully in their house on April 27, 1278 at the age of 60.After her death, Saint Zita became one of the most popular saints in Europe, especially among servants, laborers and the poor. She was canonized in 1696 and became the patron saint of Lucca and domestic workers. The poet Dante used her name in his epic poem Inferno. Today, her body is on display for public veneration in the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca where she worshipped most of her life. Her feast day is April 27.
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