St. Zita was born in the early 1200s. Her family was poor, but her mother taught Zita to rely on God and seek his will in every circumstance. By the time she was 12, and was sent to work in the home of the Fatinelli family in Lucca, Zita already had a strong prayer life.
Zita’s employers lived by a church, and she woke up extremely early every morning to attend daily Mass. She considered her work a means of serving God, and kept herself mindful of his presence even during long hours and exhausting tasks.
For many years, Zita was treated poorly by her employers, including fits of rage and beatings. She faced this abuse with patience and inner strength from prayer. Over time, her employers came to value her service and appreciate her virtues.
Zita was promoted to a position of responsibility, but she remained humble. She continued to view her services as doing God’s will, and refused to hold a grudge against those who had mistreated her. Zita remained kind to the people who worked under her direction, and continued to give alms, to the point of personal sacrifice.
Throughout her life, Zita found a source of strength in the Mass and Communion, which frequently moved her to tears. She set aside time every day for contemplative prayer.
In one story about Zita, she left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need. A few of the other servants told the Fatinelli family that she had abandoned her work, but when they went to investigate, they claimed to have found angels in the kitchen, baking the bread for her.
After foretelling her own death, and preparing spiritually, Zita died in Lucca on April 27, 1271. Many residents considered her a saint and began seeking her intercession, and a large number of miracles are attributed to her.
The Fatinelli family contributed to the cause of Zita’s canonization. The earliest account of her life was found in a family manuscript and was published in 1688. Pope Innocent XII canonized Zita in 1696.
In 1580, St. Zita’s body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt, but has since been mummified. It is venerated today in the Basilica of St. Frediano, where she attended Mass.