Born of poor but devout Christian parents in 1218 at Monte Sagrati, near Lucca in Italy, St. Zita as a child, was pleasing to God. Her elder sister was a Cistercian nun and her uncle a saintly hermit. At 12, she entered the service of the Fatinelli family of Lucca where she remained until her death on 27 April 1278.
Zita performed her duties faithfully; in addition she rose up at night for prayer, attended Mass daily at the church of San Frediano, fasted often and distributed her portions of food. She even went so far as to sleep on the bare ground, having given up her bed to a beggar; her co-servants despised her way of living, regarding her activities as a silent reproach to themselves. Resenting her open abhorrence of evil suggestion and foul language, they even succeeded in prejudicing her employers against her for some time. She suffered calumny and contempt; but she endured every trial with singular meekness, patience and submissiveness and manifested to her enemies the divine magnanimity inspired by the pure love of God.
At length, she overcame her enemies by her humility and forgiving attitude. Now realizing what treasure they possessed in Zita, her employers entrusted their house and family entirely to her care.
In spite of the daily chores that kept her busy, she would somehow find enough time to visit the poor and the sick. One Christmas Eve as she was leaving for the church her master, Pogano, threw his fur-coat over her, bidding her not to lose it. But at the entrance of the church she encountered a scantily clad man, who asked for the coat. She readily gave it to him telling him that he might retain it till she came out of the church. When the service was over, the man was not to be seen anywhere. Crestfallen, Zita returned home to the reproaches of her master, who, but naturally, was extremely annoyed at the loss of his coat. But as he sat to dine a stranger appeared at the door and returned the fur-coat to Zita. As Pogano and Zita rose to speak to him, he quickly vanished from their sight leaving in their hearts the celestial joy of Christmas! Ever since, the portal of San Frediano where Zita met the stranger has come to be known as the “Angel Door”. Two other miracles that stand out prominently in Zita’s life are bread being baked by angels at the Fatinelli while Zita was busy nursing the sick; and the replenishment of beans she had given away to the poor.
The body of this saint who spent her days doing ordinary things extraordinarily well and who was praised by all in and out of the Church, was laid to rest in the church of San Frediano at Lucca. Canonized on 5 September 1696, St Zita was declared the patron of domestic workers on 26 September 1933.
Reflection :"A servant is not good if she is not industrious: workshy piety in people of our position is sham piety" (St Zita).