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St. Maria Goretti

Saturday July 6, 2024

In the annals of saints, there are few stories as powerful and moving as that of St. Maria Goretti. Born in 1890 in Italy, she led a brief but extraordinary life that continues to captivate hearts and inspire millions around the world. Her unwavering faith, extraordinary forgiveness, and remarkable courage in the face of unimaginable adversity make her a shining example of holiness and virtue. In this blog post, we will explore the life and legacy of St. Maria Goretti, a young saint whose story resonates deeply with people of all ages.

Maria Goretti was born into a poor agricultural family in Corinaldo, Italy. Her father died when she was just nine years old, leaving her mother, Assunta, to provide for the family. Despite their impoverished circumstances, the Goretti family was deeply devout, instilling in Maria a strong Catholic faith from an early age.

The Martyrdom of St. Maria Goretti

In 1902, tragedy struck when Maria was just eleven years old. A neighbor named Alessandro Serenelli, who was several years older than Maria, made unwanted advances towards her. When she resisted his advances, he stabbed her multiple times. Grievously wounded, Maria was rushed to the hospital, where she clung to life for the next 24 hours.

During her final hours, Maria displayed an extraordinary depth of spirituality and forgiveness. She forgave Alessandro for his heinous act, expressing her desire to see him in heaven. This act of forgiveness would eventually lead to Alessandro's conversion and repentance. Maria's steadfast faith and her willingness to forgive even in the face of great suffering became a testament to the transformative power of God's love. Maria Goretti passed away on July 6, 1902, due to her severe injuries.

A Life Transformed

The story of St. Maria Goretti does not end with her tragic death. It takes an incredible turn when her attacker, Alessandro Serenelli, experienced a profound conversion that forever changed his life.

Initially unrepentant, Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of Maria. However, while incarcerated, he began to receive visions and messages from Maria herself. In these encounters, Maria appeared to Alessandro as a radiant figure, expressing her forgiveness and urging him to repent.

Moved by Maria's unwavering forgiveness and grace, Alessandro underwent a complete transformation. He recognized the depth of his sins and the magnitude of Maria's mercy, which had the power to heal even the darkest corners of his soul. Over time, he embraced his Catholic faith, sought reconciliation with God, and eventually sought forgiveness from Maria's mother, Assunta.

In an extraordinary act of forgiveness, Assunta forgave Alessandro for his unspeakable crime, just as her daughter had done. This act of mercy and reconciliation marked a pivotal moment in Alessandro's life. He was deeply humbled by the Goretti family's unwavering faith and their ability to extend forgiveness in the face of unimaginable pain.

In a remarkable turn of events, Alessandro and Assunta, Maria's mother, had a chance encounter in 1937. They met at the prison where Alessandro had been incarcerated, and Assunta embraced him with forgiveness and compassion. This meeting deeply touched Alessandro, affirming the power of forgiveness and the redemptive grace he had experienced.

Following his release from prison, Alessandro dedicated the rest of his life to penance and spiritual reflection. He became a lay brother in a Capuchin monastery, living a life of prayer, penance, and reparation for his sins. Alessandro often spoke publicly about his transformation and the power of God's forgiveness through the intercession of St. Maria Goretti.

For the remainder of his life, Alessandro dedicated himself to spreading the message of forgiveness and conversion. He often shared his story at retreats, schools, and parishes, testifying to the life-changing power of God's love and the transformative impact of St. Maria Goretti's intercession.

Legacy and Sainthood

Recognizing her remarkable virtue and the sanctity of her life, Maria was beatified in 1947 by Pope Pius XII and was subsequently canonized as a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1950. She became the youngest canonized saint in the history of the Catholic Church.

St. Maria Goretti's story continues to inspire millions of people worldwide. Her life serves as a reminder that even in the most challenging circumstances, one can choose forgiveness and remain faithful to God. Her incorrupt body is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Grace in Nettuno, Italy, attracting countless pilgrims each year who seek her intercession and draw inspiration from her holy example.

St. Maria Goretti is often venerated as the patroness of youth, purity, and victims of sexual assault. Her intercession is sought by those struggling with chastity and the forgiveness of others. Her story has been the subject of books, films, and plays, further spreading awareness of her remarkable life and inspiring others to emulate her virtue.

St. Maria Goretti's story is one of extraordinary faith, forgiveness, and martyrdom. Despite facing unimaginable evil, she chose to forgive her attacker and clung steadfastly to her faith until her last breath. Her life serves as a reminder that even in the face of great adversity, we have the power to choose love, mercy, and forgiveness. St. Maria Goretti continues to be an inspiration to all, reminding us of the transformative power of God's grace and the extraordinary potential within each one of us to become saints in our own right.

Patron Saint

St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of victims of rape and crime, teenage girls, and modern youth.

Daily Mass Readings for St. Maria Goretti

The readings may be taken from below, the readings for the day, the Common of Virgins, or the Common of Martyrs.

  • First Reading - 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20: Our bodies are for the Lord, forming one spirit with Him. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we must avoid immorality, respecting and glorifying God in our bodies.
  • Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 31: The Lord is a refuge, a rock, and a guide. Trusting in His faithfulness, we commit our spirit into His hands, hoping for deliverance from enemies and seeking His shining face.
  • Gospel - John 12:24-26: Jesus teaches his disciples that unless a grain of wheat falls and dies, it cannot bear much fruit. He emphasizes that those who love their earthly life will lose it, but those who are willing to let go of it will gain eternal life. Jesus declares that to serve Him, one must follow Him, and those who serve Him will be honored by the Father.
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He loves, He hopes, He waits. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep us waiting an instant.

St. Maria Goretti

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