Devotion to iconic religious figures, though being as old as Christianity itself. Furthermore, it can range from being deeply personal and intense (Kasten, 2014; Mayblin, 2014; Ganzevoort, 2008; Jansen & Kuhl, 2008; Ghezzi, 2007; Martin, 2006; Ellsberg, 2006), to superficially tangential and ephemeral (Coles, 2012; Tari & Vanni, 2008), wherein devotional strategies may be rooted in ‘quid pro quo’ dependencies, parental influences, or ‘accidentally triggered’ interest in the hagiography of a particular saint. However, pilgrimage motivations, expectations and experiences are often seen as altogether different matters. Indeed, the modern pilgrim is often motivated by a combination of impulses, including the satisfaction of spiritual / religious needs, adventure, fulfilling a long held promise, overcoming a physical challenge, enjoying a cultural experience, taking time out to reflect, satisfying a rite of passage, offering thanksgiving, or embarking on a journey of personal discovery (Mayblin, 2014; Frank, 2009; Jansen & Kuhl, 2008). Nevertheless, devotion and religious pilgrimage are often symbiotic constructs, through being two sides of the one coin. Indeed, while pilgrimage is one of the oldest and most basic forms of population mobility to have emerged from religious devotion, many Christian pilgrimages appear to have evolved into a holiday format (Kresic et al., 2013), where the facilitation of pilgrims seeking out adventure and sublime experiences, mirrors the Victorian pilgrims that first blurred the image barrier between tourism and pilgrimage (Kresic et al., 2013; Frank, 2009). However, pilgrimage may also follow a gritty spirituality which, when linked to an embedded devotion, creates a community of devotees, whose need to travel long distances is often rooted in devotion to, and identity with, the life experiences of their adopted saint (Mayblin, 2014; Bond & Falk, 2013; Cohen, 2010; Ganzevoort, 2008). Born in 1381 in the small town of Roccaporena, an earthquake torn region of Umbria in Italy, Margherita Lotti (later canonised as St. Rita of Cascia), experienced rejection, loss, pain, and serenity in numerous guises, initially, as a reluctant, yet compliant wife, in motherhood, in widowhood, and in her later years, in the fulfilment of her desire to become an Augustinian nun (Rotelle, 2000). Furthermore, while this extraordinary ‘ordinary woman’ was additionally rejected through being written out of popular church history for over four hundred years, she became the first woman saint to be canonised in the twentieth century (Heather & Heather, 2003; Corcoran, 1985). So, in considering the relatively recent rebirth of her popularity, this paper charts the development of an unshakeable devotion to St. Rita in a small medieval part of Dublin City, and the motivations, expectations and satisficing of those who have journeyed on an annual pilgrimage from Dublin to Cascia, honouring their shared ‘Saint of the Impossible’.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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