Saint Zita for forty-eight years was employed in the service of a citizen of Lucca, Italy. During this time she rose each morning to hear Mass while all in the household were asleep, and then toiled incessantly until night came, doing the work of others as well as her own.
Once Zita, absorbed in prayer, remained in church past the usual hour of her bread-making. She hastened home, reproaching herself with neglect of duty, but found the bread made and ready for the oven. She did not doubt that her mistress or one of her servants had kneaded it, and going to them, thanked them. They were astonished, for no human being had made the bread; Angels had made it during her prayer.
For years her master and mistress treated her as a mere drudge, while her fellow-servants, resenting her diligence as a reproach to themselves, insulted and struck her. Saint Zita offered these sufferings with those of Christ her Lord, never changing the sweet tone of her voice or forgetting her gentle and quiet ways. At length her employer, seeing the success which attended her undertakings, gave her charge of his children and the household. She dreaded this dignity more than the worst humiliation, but scrupulously fulfilled her trust.
By her holy economy her master's goods were multiplied, while the poor were fed at his door. Gradually her unfailing patience conquered the jealousy of her fellow-servants, and she became their advocate with their hot-tempered master, who dared not give way to his anger before Zita. In the end her prayer and toil sanctified the entire house, and drew down upon it the blessings of Heaven. She died in 1278, and at the moment of her death, a bright star appearing above the attic where she slept showed that she had gained eternal rest.
Reflection. What must I do to be saved? said a certain person who feared damnation. Work and pray, pray and work, a voice replied, and thou shalt be saved. The whole life of Saint Zita teaches us this truth.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).