Fiesta of Santa Rita

Santa Rita, Fiesta of

May 22
It is said that when St. Rita was a child, she wanted to become a nun, but she ended up marrying to please her parents. Her husband turned out to be abusive, unfaithful, and, about 20 years into their marriage, was involved in some activity that got him murdered. Rita then fulfilled her childhood dream and joined a nunnery at Cascia, Italy. Her ministry as a nun focused on caring for the ill and troubled until she died of tuberculosis in 1447.
Villagers in Apastepeque, San Vicente Department, El Salvador, celebrate Santa Rita's feast day, May 22, with a dance-drama called the Dance of the Tunco de Monte, or Wild Pig. This is an Indian dance going back to pre-Christian times and is popular among Indians all over El Salvador. One person dresses in pig skins and pretends to be a pig, while other dancers portray various other stock characters. They enact the chasing and, finally, killing of the pig. At the concluding "feast" the hunter who has caught the pig alternates between praying to Santa Rita for the welfare of the village and cracking jokes.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of El Salvador
1400 16th St. N.W., Ste. 100
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-265-9671; fax: 202-232-3763
www.elsalvador.org
SOURCES:
FiestaTime-1965, p. 94
OxDictSaints-1987, p. 370