Tuesday, May 20, 2008

St. Rita of Cascia - Roses and Figs

May 22 is the optional memorial of St. Rita of Cascia. In the last months of her life, when she was very ill, Rita received a visit from a relative. When they were saying goodbye, the relative asked if Rita wanted anything from her home. Rita replied that she would have liked a rose and two figs from the garden. It was the middle of winter and this seemed an impossible request. When she arrived home, the relative was surprised to find, on a rose bush bare of leaves and covered with snow, a magnificent rose, as well as two figs on the fig tree. She picked the rose and the fruit and brought them to the St. Rita. St. Rita is often pictured with roses and she is the patron of impossible causes.

As a special addition on the day of this memorial, enjoy a simple tea or snack time featuring roses and figs. On the menu you could include Fig Newtons (or make your own fig bars - see recipe below) and rose scented tea. We just picked up some China rose petal tea from a local specialty tea shop. It smells heavenly. Another drink alternative for non-tea drinkers would be a pink lemonade with a touch of rose water.

Home-Made Fig Bars

1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. each salt and baking soda

Fig filling: Chop 1 package (12 ounce) moist dried figs. In small saucepan mix with 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thick and jam-like. Remove from heat and cool.

-Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
-Mix flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into first mixture (dough will be stiff). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.
-When ready to bake, turn dough out on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14 by 12 inch rectangle. Cut into 4 strips 3 1/2 by 12 inches long. 
-Spoon filling evenly down center of strips. With spatula, turn in sides of strips. Press edges together to seal. Cut each strip into 10 pieces. Arrange seam side down on baking sheets. 
-Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

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  1. I love your ideas, Mary. This is simple and doable -- even options for a non tea drinker like me!

  2. Mary this is beautiful and perfect!! Jenn St. Rita would have probably loved a shot of espresso too :)

  3. Thank you, Mary, for this recipe. Homemade fig bars sound divine! This was a lovely tribute to St. Rita!

  4. Very nice! I'll have to look for the rosebud tea. I picked up some dried figs, goat cheese and prosciutto for appetizers on St Rita's Feast Day. I think they'll taste fabulous all warm and melty off the grill.

  5. What wonderful ideas Mary! Thank you!

  6. Thanks for this post! I knew she asked for the roses, but I forgot about the figs!

  7. Wonderful! This I will definetely make - St Rita is my patron saint.

  8. I love that! I definitely want to try that. :)

  9. I'd love to try it. Thank you so much for sharing.