Lenten Retreat

Sharing the Joy of the Gospel - an exploration of Pope Francis' first document Evangelli Gaudium.  Led by Fr. Gerald Wilson.O.A.R.

Starts with coffee/tea at 10.30, first Talk at 11.00am.  Cost for the Day £25 which includes lunch.  Mass at 4pm.


Catholic Women's League

Catholic Women's League members from Devon have held their annual reisdential retreat at St Rita's Centre.  


Advent Day of Recollection

                      St Rita’s Centre,

Honiton, Devon



Advent Day of Recollection

                     Saturday 14th December 2013


The Christmas Story – a reflection on the Gospels for today.


  Fr Gerald Wilson O.A.R.


10.30am – 4.00pm


Programme:  10.30 Coffee/tea on arrival

for 11.00am start


Cost per person: £20.00 (suggested donation)with lunch


Overnight accommodation available.


For further information contact: St Rita’s Promotions

Tel: 01404 42635


                   Email:  Web Site:  


Magdalene of Nagasaki 20th October

St Magdalene of Nagasaki

20th October




            The first Augustinian missionaries reached Japan in 1602, the first Recollects twenty years later.  Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans were also working there.  The Orders saw this vast and mysterious empire as a great challenge to their faith and missionary zeal.  At first there was a period of success, with many converts and new churches.  The Orders received their first Japanese novices and were able to introduce their traditional devotions, receiving committed lay people into their confraternities and Third Orders.  Magdalene of Nagasaki was a young girl from a devout Christian background who became an Augustinian Recollect tertiary, died a martyr for the Faith when still in her early 20’s, and is now patroness of the Secular Augustinian Recollects, the Third Order of today.


            Magdalene was born about the year 1611 near Nagasaki, the city where most of Japan’s new Christians lived or sought refuge on the outbreak of persecution.  Her family appear to have been reasonably well-off and very much involved in the life of the Christian community.  But she was still very young, probably about thirteen, when her parents and older siblings were arrested and martyred for their faith.  She found a new family in the close-knit Christian community and its missionaries and she gave her young life to helping them.


            She was particularly close to the Augustinian Recollects Francis of Jesus and Vincent of St Augustine.  She assisted Francis as interpreter and catechist and he later received her profession as a member of the Third Order.  But Magdalene was orphaned a second time when Francis and Vincent – among the beatified martyrs we remember on 28th September – were burned to death on Nagasaki’s “Hill of the Martyrs” in 1632.  She would have witnessed the horrific deaths by burning, beheading, crucifixion and dreadful torture of many more missionaries and lay Christians.  Her faith held strong and she continued to exercise a ministry of catechizing, caring and encouraging among the persecuted Christian community that gave her the reputation of a deaconess.  After the martyrdom of Blesses Francis and Vincent, quickly followed by that of two other Recollects, Blessed Martin and Melchior, Magdalen was helped and guided by Dominican missionaries.  After two years ministering to the persecuted Christians in the hills around Nagasaki, witnessing heroic martyrdoms but also sad betrayals and desertions, Magdalene felt she could best serve this community by handing herself over to the authorities and taking the consequences.  This she bravely did in September, 1634.


            In ways reminiscent of the martyrdoms of young girls like St Cecilia in the days of the Roman Empire Magdalene had to face all kinds of promises and threats from her persecutors.  When all this failed to produce the apostasy which was the main aim of the authorities she was subjected to horrendous torture and death.  First she was left hanging for several hours by her arms until the ropes broke and she fell to the ground.  Then she had bamboo spikes stuck under her fingernails and she was forced to scratch and claw the ground.  Next came sadistic variations on the water torture, forcing the victim to swallow large quantities of water and then applying pressure to force the water, tinged with blood, out of mouth, nose and other organs.  Eventually the torturers had to give up.  Magdalene was returned to a cage in the gaol and left in dreadful pain to await execution.  The day arrived in early October.  Magdalene was taken from her prison and paraded on horseback through the streets of the city with a placard hanging from her neck announcing her crime as refusing to abandon her Christian faith.  Witnesses later testified that she was dressed in her habit and cincture as an Augustinian Recollect tertiary.


            Ten other Christians, of whom she seemed to be the leader and inspiration, were to die with her.  On reaching the “Hill of the Martyrs” the executioners hung Magdalene upside-down from a gallows over a pit dug in the ground.  Hers was to be the most dreadful of all the barbaric forms of execution used in the persecution.  With her arms bound to her sides she was lowered up to her waist into the pit which was then covered over with boards to make breathing even more difficult.  Blood would naturally flow to the head but to prevent a quick death from congestion cuts were made with a knife to her temples and blood trickled out.  The executioners waited in vain for any sign of recanting, but Magdalene only continued to pray, even sing hymns, according to witnesses.  She was said to have survived in this terrible state and without food or drink for thirteen days.  She was let fall into the pit which had partly filled with rainwater and she died from drowning.  To avoid having relics kept by the Christians Magdalene’s body was burnt and her ashes scattered on the sea in Nagasaki Bay.  Her martyrdom made a great impression on the Christian community as well as on a number of Portugese merchants who frequented the area.  Many of these were later deported to Macao where number of Japanese Christians would also be exiled.  As a result evidence could be collected from numerous witnesses about the life and martyrdom of the Augustinian martyrs of Japan and Magdalene in particular.  Though this was done in the 1630’s it was not till 1981 that Magdalene of Nagasaki was beatified, together with a number of Dominican martyrs, by Pope John Paul II.  She was canonized with the same companions and by the same Pope in Rome on 18th October, 1987.


            The Augustinian family celebrates the feast day of St Magdalene of Nagasaki on 20th October.  She has been proclaimed Patroness of the Secular Augustinian Recollects, formerly known as the Third Order O.A.R.


Christmas cards

Go to our Christmas catagloue to see our 2013 range of Christmas cards and other items.


The St Rita Rose

The St Rita Rose

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a quote by William Shakespeare from his play Romeo and Juliet.  At Rita’s Centre we have our own rose; a new rose called ‘The St Rita Rose’.   



"Earlier this year I purchased a St Rita Rose  bush for my wife (her  name is Rita) as a gift for her feast day.  It is flourishing and has been blooming continuously - it is a delightful addition to our small garden.  Thank you for bringing it to our attention"

(name withheld but kept on file in the office)



The rose has been cultivated and named in honour of this incredible ‘Saint of the Helpless’.  The story of St Rita’s life tells us that in January 1457 as Rita lay dying, she asked a relative to bring her a rose from the garden at her old home, a strange request in January.  The relative went to the garden and there she found a lone rose in bloom.  The rose was soon in Rita’s room, which we are told soon became full of the scent of roses.  


                On St Rita’s feast day, Sunday 22nd May, there will be Mass followed by the blessing and distribution of roses for the sick at 12noon at St Rita’s Centre, Honiton.   Following Mass the new rose will be blessed and planted at the Centre by Fr Gerald Wilson, Vicar Provincial of the Order of Augustinian Recollects.     The rose is a beautiful lemon/yellow floribunda chosen because yellow is the symbol of joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold and philosophy and is available to anyone from World of Roses £12.95 and for each rose bush sold St Rita’s Centre will receive a £2 donation. 

To Order a St Rita Rose bush telephone: 08452 606888.  Web Site:




St Rita's Stand at the 2013 Honiton Show.


We had a great day meeting people from Honiton and a lot of other places who had come to visit the Show on the hottest day of the Year!

We gave out a lot of publicity material and hopefully, a lot more people are aware of our pressence in Honiton.


Spanish Students

This year we welcomed two Spanish groups of students from Valladolid who came to St Rita's Centre to learn English.  

Thankfully the weather was wonderful for both groups.

Both groups made visits to places of interest, Bath being one of them, and London another.

We hope to see more groups of Spanish students next year.


Our New Mug

On sale in our shop is a Bone China mug made by Chown China in Cornwall featuring a picture of St Rta on one side and the St Rita Rose on the other side.  £7.50 each.


Bristol Exhibition

The Christian Resources Ehibition in Bristol was a wonderful experience for St Rita's Retreat & Conference Centre.  We spent 2 days at the Frenchay Campus Conference Centre and spoke to close on 1,000 people and gave out information sheets about our Centre.  The organisation was wonderful and there was a very happy, positive atmosphere; we made lots of friends among the other Exhibitors and hope to get many enquiries and bookings during the coming year.

Our Stand at the Bristol Exhibition Jan 2013


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