Servant renowned for her charity and miracles
Zita was born at Monte Sagrati, Italy, into a poor but holy Christian family. Her older sister became a Cistercian nun and her uncle Graziano was a hermit whom the local people regarded as a saint. Zita herself always tried to do God’s will obediently whenever it was pointed out to her by her mother. At the age of 12 Zita became a housekeeper in the home of the wealthy Fatinelli family in Lucca, eight miles from her home at Monte Sagrati. The other servants took an immediate dislike to her because she worked hard, prayed and went to Mass daily, and gave away food and clothing including those of her employers to the poor. In time, she won over the members of the household. Zita’s generosity with her employer’s goods once nearly got her into trouble. She gave away a lot of the household stock of beans. When Signor Fatinelli decided to inspect the stock, intending to sell it, Zita worried. The supply, however, had been miraculously replenished. According to tradition, she had extra help that enabled her to do an extraordinary amount of work. Zita went to Mass and prayed every day.
One day she stayed in church too long and was late starting her baking. When she arrived home, she found loaves of bread prepared and neatly laid out in rows in the kitchen, ready to be baked. Another story tells that the other servants found an angel taking Zita’s place in baking and cleaning. Because of her efficiency, she was given a free reign over her working schedule. She visited the sick and those in prison. She was sought out by many important people. Zita stayed with the Fatinelli family for the last 48 years of her life. She died in 1278 and was buried in the Church of St. Frediano in Lucca. Her casket was opened in 1446 and 1581 and her body was found to be dark and dry, but incorrupt. She is now enshrined in a glass-sided reliquary in the church. In art Zita is depicted with a bag and keys, or loaves of bread and a rosary.