The story of St. Rita of Cascia never fails to create a buzz.

A holy Italian mystic who was born in 1381, St. Rita is often associated with bees. The day after her baptism, when she was five years old, a swarm of white bees reportedly swarmed around her mouth and even alighted on her lips. They were seen to enter and leave her partially open mouth but amazingly she was not harmed nor did she utter a whimper.

Witnesses believed the event to be a mystery, although they could not explain it.

Bees would not become a significant part of her legacy until years later, following the death of her husband and children and long after St. Rita became an Augustinian nun at Cascia. In fact, bees did not reappear until nearly 200 years after her death in 1457, when they built a hive in a wall of the monastery in which she had lived. To this day, those bees remain but hibernate for 10 months of the year, emerging only during Holy Week.

Reports say the bees never leave the convent closure, spending a few weeks about the garden before returning to the wall following the feast of St. Rita and sealing themselves in their self-made holes. The bees at the convent are not white but resemble the hue of a common bee, only with no stinger.

One of the bees was given to Pope Urban VIII but eventually the bee made its way back to the convent.

The sisters at the convent do not see the bees as a nuisance, only a natural occurrence that happens to occur in their walls.

St. Rita was buried in the basilica of Cascia and was later discovered to be incorrupt. Today, her body lies in the St. Rita shrine at Cascia.

She was canonized by Pope Leo XII on May 24, 1900.

Naturally, many images of St. Rita have her surrounded by bees. She is also often portrayed in a black habit, which is historically inaccurate since sisters at the Magdalene monastery wore beige or brown.

St. Rita is the patron saint of impossible cases, difficult marriages and parenthood. Her feast day is May 22.

Throughout history, the bee has traditionally been a symbol of wisdom and industry. And St. Rita is not the only saint with swarming bees in their hagiography, as bees are often associated with St. Ambrose, St. Dominic and several others.