Saint Zita (1218-1272), often depicted with a bag and keys, is the patronness of single laywomen, as well as domestic servants, maids, homemakers, lost keys, people who are ridiculed for their piety, rape victims, waiters and waitresses. St Zita was born in Italy. At the age of 12, she became a servant. Her employers and fellow servants found her goodness and hard work irritating, and so, for many years, she was disliked, overworked and beaten as a result. Throughout all of it, St Zita remained peaceful. Her love and respect for her employers and fellow-servants eventually won them over and she was eventually placed in charge of all of the affairs of the house.
St Zita felt that her work and her employers were given to her by God. In addition to doing her work with great diligence, she rose early for prayer, participated in daily Mass with great devotion, and gave food to the poor. St Zita died at her employer’s house at 60 years of age after serving the family for 48 years.
St Zita’s feastday is April 27, a day that families celebrate by baking a loaf of bread:
1-1/2 cups boiling water
6 Tablespoons soft shortening
1-1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup wheat germ
5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Combine boiling water, shortening, honey, and salt; stir until shortening melts. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add yeast, eggs, wheat germ, and half the flour to lukewarm mixture. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed with electric mixer or 300 vigorous strokes with a spoon. Blend in remaining flour with a spoon. Dough will be sticky. Spread dough evenly in 2 well-greased loaf pans, 9 x 5 x 3 inches. Smooth tops by flouring hand and patting into shape. Let rise in warm place until 1 inch from top of pans. Bake at 375° for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Crust will be dark brown. Remove from pans at once; brush tops with melted butter or margarine; cool on racks before cutting. Makes 2 loaves.
Recipe Source: The Cook’s Blessings by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965