Wednesday, July 1, 2015


St Maria Goretti was born on October 16th 1890 in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy.  Her father moved the family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio, due to increased poverty.  When Maria was nine years old, her father died of malaria and the family had to share a house with another family (The Serenellis family).
Maria had to take over household duties from her mother, while her mother and the rest of her family worked in the fields.
On a hot afternoon in July 1902 Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs in the cottage, mending a shirt, she was not yet quite 12 years old.  A cart stopped outside and Alessandro Serenellis a young man of 18 years ran up the stairs. He beckoned Maria into the adjoining bedroom but she refused to go Alessandro seized hold of her, pulled her in and shut the door. Maria struggled and tried to call for help, but she was being half-strangled and could only protest hoarsely, gasping that she would be killed rather than submit to him because that would be a mortal sin.  He stabbed her 14 times and ran away. An ambulance fetched Maria to hospital, where it was seen at once she would not live.
Her last hours were most touching - her concern for where her mother was going to sleep, her forgiveness of her murderer (and she now disclosed that she had long been going in fear of him but did not like to say anything lest she cause trouble with his family), after receiving Holy Communion 24 hours after the assault Maria Goretti died. Her mother, the parish priest of Nettuno, a spanish noblewoman and two nuns had watched by her bed all night.
Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years penal servitude. For a long time he was surly, brutal and unrepentant. Then one night he had a dream or vision in which he saw Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him.  From then on he was a changed man, and so exemplary a prisoner that at the end of 27 years he was released. His first act when free was to visit Maria' mother to beg her forgiveness, Maria's mother did forgive him.
Meanwhile the memory of his victim had become more and more revered. People prayed for her intercession in Heaven, answers even miracles, were attributed to her and the cause of her beatification was introduced.  On 27th April 1947 Maria Goretti was declared blessed by Pope Pius X11 when he afterwards appeared on the balcony of St Peters' he was accompanied by Maria's mother Assunta who was then 82 years old.
Three years later the same pope canonized St Maria Goretti in the piazza of St Peter's before the biggest crowd ever assembled for a canonization.  Her murderer was still alive, he had become a lay brother in a monastery eventually dying peacefully in 1970.

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