St. Maria Goretti was an Italian and one of our youngest saints to be canonized. She was one of seven children in the family. Her father died when she was nine years old. After his death her family had to live with another family. She is the patron saint of rape victims and teenage girls. Her feast day is July 6. She was born in the year 1890 and died in the 1902. She was a poor country girl that gave her life for knowing and choosing right from wrong.
Maria’s family was so poor that they rarely had any money to their name. They were migrant laborers and it was a hardship for her parents to provide for their seven children. After their father died their mother had to work in the fields with her children. Maria typically stayed home to cook, clean, sew, and care for her baby sister. She was doing all of this at the young age of 11. It was when she was home alone that Alessandro came to the house. He lived there with the other family. He was 18 years old and had on two occasions tried to take advantage of Maria. She refused each time. But one day, he did not take “no” as the answer. She screamed and tried to get away. She screamed that it was “a mortal sin.” She even told him he would go to hell. But he didn’t care. Maria ran to get away, but he caught her. He stabbed her multiple times.
Maria was taken to the hospital and the doctors tried to save her life. Her injuries were too great. Before she died, she told her mother and the police that Alessandro had tried to rape her twice before. He had threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Because of the threat she remained silent.
Maria spoke with Alessandro before dying. She forgave Alessandro for attacking her and she said that she wanted him to one day be in heaven. Within 24 hours after the attack, Maria died.
Alessandro served 27 of his 30 years sentence for killing Maria. After getting out of prison, he became a lay Franciscan and worked as a gardener in a monastery until his death. He was quiet about what he had done to Maria, but he did share with a bishop that Maria came to him in a dream and gave him some lilies which are symbols of purity. He said that when he reached for the flowers that his hands were scorched.
Alessandro also went to Maria’s mother and asked her for forgiveness for what he had done to her daughter. Her mother forgave him and they both along with her siblings were present at Maria’s canonization.
St. Maria Goretti is an excellent role model for all people, young and old. She inspires us to value purity and chastity as God-given gifts.
Maria was twelve years old, but she understood more than most twelve-year olds, about God’s love and our response to God’s love. She chose death rather than to let Alessandro use her in an indecent way. She tried to help him see what his consequences would be if he would continue what he had started. In the end, she forgave him, as Jesus forgave those who tortured and crucified him.
Pope Pius XII canonized Maria in 1950. She had the largest crowd ever present for a canonization. It has been reported there were around 250,000 people present. So many people were touched by Maria and her life. She had no schooling, never learned to read or write. She was larger and more backward than the others were who made their First Communion with her. Yet, she is someone that has taught us a great lesson.
Maria may have had difficulties with learning her catechism, but she had no trouble with her Faith. She knew that God’s will was for all of us to have holiness by demonstrating decency and respect for one’s body. She understood what “absolute obedience, and total trust” in God meant. Her life was difficult in so many ways, yet her faith was simple and complete. She saw it as a privilege to be loved by God, and to love him no matter what the cost may be.