img_2165The future town of Sta. Rita actually started as a clearing in a place called “Gasac”, which is now Barrio San Isidro. It was known early as Sta. Rita Baculud or Sta. Rita de Lele, in reference to its proximity to Bacolor, where townsfolk did their daily marketing via barrio Sta. Barbara. Its history is also closely linked with Porac for Sta. Rita was near the Esterillo Viejo, or Sapang Matua, a creek that originated from the Porac mountains. For a while, one priest—Fr. Pedro de San Nicolas—was assigned to serve the spiritual needs of both Porac and Sta. Rita. It was only in 1770 when Sta. Rita secured its political/spiritual independence from Porac, due largely to the efforts of Fr. Don Vicente Eustaquio Polina, a secular native priest. 1770, thus, is regarded as the town’s founding year, also coinciding with the assumption of office of Juan Balatbat, Sta. Rita’s 1st gobernadorcillo.
img_2173For its titular patroness, the town chose Santa Rita de Casia, a 15th century Augustinian saint invoked by desperate people beset with seemingly hopeless problems like troubled marriages and domestic violence. Sta. Rita was married to an ill-tempered husband who was subsequently murdered. Her two children vowed revenge, but Sta. Rita, through her intense prayers, averted her children’s criminal plot. The two fell sick and died before they could carry out their vengeance. Thus without a family, Rita joined the Augustinians but only after several unsuccessful attempts. She led a life of mortification and, in a moment of fervent prayer, received the stigmata of the Lord on her forehead.



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