Hi there, fellow slackers! It’s Bridget again, bringing you the story of a humble woman, who can also help you find your keys! So when they are misplaced, chat with her in addition to St. Anthony. St. Zita, patron saint of domestic workers, housekeepers, and waitstaff, was one of those who would be overlooked in society. Yet, due to her kindness, dedication to her work, piety, and loyalty, she became one of the most respected in the household she served. Even before her canonization, over 150 miracles were attributed to her intercession. During her lifetime, she exemplified kindness to the poor.
Zita was born in Tuscany to a poor Christian family. Her uncle was a hermit who opened his home to travelers, and he was considered a saint by many in the area. Zita learned at an early age to serve God, and she was nurtured in her prayer life by her mother. She began domestic service at the age of twelve in the home of a wealthy weaver. She served the same family for nearly 50 years.
She began as one of the lower servants and endured many years of abuse by her fellow workers and by the family she served. Her work was so good, and her manner so pleasant, that the older maid who was training her attempted to discredit Zita. This initially turned other servants against her. But Zita developed a deep internal prayer life and continued her service as a part of her religion. By continuing to live out her faith in this way, she became revered for her dedication to her work. She divided her income into thirds, giving one third to her parents, keeping another third for herself, and giving the last third to the poor.
She was given permission by the lady of the household to visit the poor and ill in their homes. She often searched at night for a homeless woman to share her dinner. Numerous miracles regarding the sharing of food are attributed to her. Zita often rose early and took bread to the poor households, and once gave away the food supply of her masters. When she was admonished for it, the pantry was opened and found to be fully re-stocked. She was also tasked with preparing bread for baking, but after preparing the bread would leave it to go minister. Upon her return, she would find the bread fully baked and ready to be served.
She went early every morning to Mass, and maintained excellence in serving and anticipating the needs of the household. Her mistress’s dying request was to have Zita named as housekeeper. After her promotion, she maintained her belief that those in the highest roles are the servants of all, and treated her staff accordingly.
Zita remained in service to the family until her peaceful death in her room. She foretold her death and prepared spiritually for it. Upon her death, the legend is that the church bells began to toll. Her employer’s family, which had initially caused much suffering in their treatment of her, championed her canonization. Zita’s body was exhumed 600 years after her death and was found to be incorrupt. It remains on display at the Church of San Frediano in Lucca, a city of which she is patron.