APRIL 27th.—ST. ZITA, VIRGIN.
lived for forty-eight years in the service of Fatinelli, a citizen of
Lucca. During this time she rose each morning, while the household
were asleep, to hear Mass, and then toiled incessantly till night
came, doing the work of others as well as her own. Once Zita, absorbed
in prayer, remained in church past the usual hour of her bread-making.
She hastened home, reproaching herself with neglect of duty, and found
the bread made and ready for the oven. She never doubted that her
mistress or one of her servants had kneaded it, and going to them,
thanked them ; but they were astonished. No human being had made the
bread. A delicious perfume rose from it, for angels had made it during
her prayer. For years her master and mistress treated her as a mere
drudge, while her fellow-servants, resenting her diligence as a
reproach to themselves, insulted and struck her. Zita united these
sufferings with those of Christ her Lord, never changing the sweet
tone of her voice, nor forgetting her gentle and quiet ways. At length
Fatinelli, seeing the success which attended her undertakings, gave
her charge of his children and of the household. She dreaded this
dignity more than the worst humiliation, but scrupulously fulfilled
her trust. By her holy economy her master's goods were multiplied,
while the poor were fed at his door. Gradually her unfailing patience
conquered the jealousy of her fellow-servants, and she became their
advocate with their hot-tempered master, who dared not give way to his
anger before Zita. In the end her prayer and toil sanctified the whole
house, and drew down upon it the benediction of Heaven. She died A.D.
1272, and in the moment of her death a bright star appearing above
her attic showed that she had gained eternal rest.