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The Miracle of Santa Zita

Saints still play an important part in modern Italian Life and Italians particularly in the south celebrate their onomastico or saint's day as well as their birthday. So children with modern names miss out on a second birthday. Every town and village has its own patron saint or saints.

In Lucca, 27th April is the day the Lucchesi celebratre Santa Zita one of the city's patron saints and also the protector of housewives and domestic workers. Her church is the magnificent Basicila of San Frediano. On entering the church, tucked in the corner behind the magnificent 12th-century font and below a beautiful but musty Della Robbia is the chapel dedicated to this much-loved character. Inside a glass casket is her tiny mummified body. The story goes that Zita in the 13th Century was a maid for the local noble Fatinelli family, who was caught stealing bread from the kitchen to give to the poor. When confronted and asked what she was hiding in her apron she replied that it was only flower…

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