- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
Who is the patron saint of baseball?: Great saints throughout history
Who is the patron saint of baseball?
Who is the patron saint of baseball? Strangely enough, there are two different answers, both correct. The first would be Saint Sebastian (more below on Saint Sebastian, who is the official saint of athletes. The second being Saint Rita.
The truth is that while Saint Rita is the official Patron Saint of various causes (abuse victims, sterility, loneliness, difficult marriages,
infertility, sickness, widows, spousal abuse, forgotten causes, impossible causes, and desperate causes), she became the unofficial Patron Saint of baseball, after the story of a group of nuns who were conned into investing in dry oil well in Texas during the early 1920s. The nuns prayed to Saint Rita, because she was the patron saint of impossible and desparate causes, and the well miraculously started pouring out oil. Apparently the workers who built the well for the nuns, also built a baseball diamond for recreation (some of whom got good enough to play professionally). So, Saint Rita was now loosely associated to baseball. The adoption of her title of Patron Saint of Baseball was largely due to a Hollywood movie in the 1990s. The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid, is based on a true story about a high school baseball coach from Texas (nearby to where the nun's oil well was brought up), Jimmy Morris, who ended up reaching his lifetime goal of pitching in the major leagues despite his age (most MLB prospects are drafted in their teens or early twenties, while he somehow managed to do it in his thirties!). According to the movie, which I am sure took some general liberties, he was able to accomplish this feat due to his belief and prayer to Saint Rita, the patron saint of baseball (the movie shows him learning the story as a boy, learning to pray to her, and then repeating it as an adult.
Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) is an Italian Augustine Saint born in Roccaporena, which is a municipality of Umbria, Italy. At the age of 12 her parents arranged a marriage for her to Paolo Mancini, despite her wanting to join a convent. Her husband was a very immoral man. Throughout their 18 year marriage he was insulting, abusive, and had numerous affairs. Despite her terrible marriage, Rita was still a loyal servant of God, and trusted in him completely. One day came when her husband was killed, and while on his deathbed he made amends for the terrible way he had treated her over the years and gave his life to God. I believe that this was a small miracle in itself, as he was able to finally develop a relationship with Christ after so many years of living for himself. I also think the fact that she was able to forgive him shows incredible strength especially after so many years of violence, cheating, and even turning her children against her.
Additional Information from catholic.org
St. Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent. Instead they arranged a marriage for her. Rita became a good wife and mother, but her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger he often mistreated his wife. He taught their children his own evil ways.
Rita tried to perform her duties faithfully and to pray and receive the sacraments frequently. After nearly twenty years of marriage, her husband was stabbed by an enemy but before he died, he repented because Rita prayed for him. Shortly afterwards, her two sons died, and Rita was alone in the world. Prayer, fasting, penances of many kinds, and good works filled her days. She was admitted to the covenant of the Augustinian nuns at Cascia in Umbria, and began a life of perfect obedience and great charity.
Sister Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour," she said one day, and suddenly one of the thorns from the crucifix struck her on the forehead. It left a deep wound which did not heal and which caused her much suffering for the rest of her life. She died on May 22, 1457. She is the patroness of impossible cases. Her Feast Day is May 22.