A little piece of Lucca in England
If like me, you are forever losing your keys then did you know that there is a Saint you can call upon to help you. Saint Zita of Lucca (1212-1272) is the protectress of the city and patron Saint of domestic servants, she can also be invoked to help find lost keys. Zita was born in the village of Monsagrati near Lucca. At the age of 12 Zita became a servant in the household of the Fatinelli family in Lucca where she worked until her death in 1272. During her working life Zita helped to provide food for the poor by stealing leftover bread from her employer and many miracles are associated with her. Legend has it that one day her master stopped her and asked to look at what she had hidden in her apron (which was of course, was the bread she was taking to the poor). Miraculously the bread she had been carrying in her apron had been transformed into flowers.
Today her mummified remains lie within a glass coffin in the church of San Frediano in Lucca. In April every year the piazza in front of this church and that of the nearby amphitheatre are filled with flowers in honour of the feast day of Santa Zita on the 27th April.
Although Santa Zita was a Saint of Lucca, her cult actually spread to England from the early 14th century until the mid 16th century where she was known as Saint Sitha. The cult of Santa Zita was brought to England by merchants, pilgrims, travellers and via immigration. Many images of Saint Sitha can be found in England and include some wonderful 15th century wall paintings in Oxfordshire (see photo from St.Etheldreda, Horley). Saint Sita is usually represented in art with her attributes of keys and household utensils.