Rita’s parents were farmers of the 14th century, known in their small Italian village for great generosity and humility. They baptized Rita as an infant, and the next day, found in her crib an incredible sight. While the baby lay sleeping, a swarm of bees, as white as the snow, gently crawled in and out of her mouth, delivering Rita honey.
But she lived a difficult life. She was married at the age of 12 and suffered through physical abuse and numerous infidelities before her husband was violently murdered. Her sons sought revenge, but died of dysentery first. At 36, Rita levitated her way into a convent, where she remained for 40 years.
Two hundred years after Rita’s death, in a small fissure in the wall between her cell and final resting place, arrived a swarm of bees. They took up residence in the convent, never stinging anyone. Someone gave one of them to Pope Urban VIII, as a gift, but the bee flew back to the convent.