July 6

St. Maria Goretti

St. Maria Goretti

They Loved God and One Another

Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890 in Corinaldo, Ancona Province in Italy. She was the third of seven children in a poor family of farmworkers. Her father moved them to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When Maria was nine years old, her father died of malaria. Their family was left even more destitute and poor. Their family moved in with another family just to survive.

Most of Maria’s siblings would work in the fields along with their mother. Maria, on the other hand, would watch her baby sister, cook their meals and manage the house. It was really a difficult life for them. However, despite their poverty and struggles, they were close to one another and were devout Christians.

Battling Sin with Purity

On July 5, 1902, when Maria was just eleven years old, Alessandro, the 20-year-old son of the family whose house they were sharing with, came home early from his work. He knew that Maria was alone, except for her baby sister she was watching. Aleesandro had insisted on having intercourse with him twice before and Maria had always declined and refused his lustful intention.

Maria was sitting outside the steps of the house sewing that time. As she concentrated on her chore, Alessandro surprised her and grabbed her from her steps. Wanting to rape Maria now, he wielded a knife and insistently demanded that she submit to his desire. The young girl refused and told him that what he wanted to do was mortal sin, warning him that he could go to hell and be punished for it. But the young man was even more unyielding, so Maria fought him with all her might, screaming “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”

Enraged by this, Alessandro tried to choke her. Maria, firm in her belief that this is mortal sin, said she would rather die than submit. When Maria continued to resist, Alessandro stabbed her eleven times. Maria was badly injured but was still alive. She tried to move toward the door, but Alessandro advanced toward her and stabbed her three more times before he finally escaped.

Maria’s baby sister woke up from the commotion and started crying. When Maria’s mother and Alessandro’s father came to check on the crying baby, they found poor Maria and rushed her to the hospital in Nettuno. Unfortunately, her wounds were beyond the surgeon’s ability to help. She explained to her mother and to the police what had ensued. The next day, she expressed forgiveness for Alessandro and said she wanted to see him in Heaven with her. That fateful day, while looking upon an image of the Virgin Mary and holding a cross to her chest, Maria breathed her last.

The Little Saint

Alessandro was captured and confessed that he had attempted to persuade Maria to accompany him to bed on some occasions in the past and had attempted to rape her before. He was found guilty and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. For the first several years, he was unrepentant. However, he recounted that Maria visited him in a dream. Twenty-seven years later, he was released from prison, he apologized and sought forgiveness from Maria’s mother, and received Communion the next day.

Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in a ceremony at Saint Peter’s Basilica on April 27, 1947 and was declared a saint on June 24, 1950 by the same pope. Her feast day is July 6.

Five Interesting Facts About St. Maria Goretti

  1. St. Maria Goretti is one of the youngest saints to be canonized.
  2. St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of chastity, rape victims, girls, youth, teenage girls, poverty, purity, and forgiveness.
  3. During the canonization of St. Maria Goretti, Alessandro was present in the St. Peter’s crowd to celebrate her canonization.
  4. After he was released from prison, Alessandro, the man who killed St. Maria Goretti, became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, where he lived in a monastery and worked as its receptionist and gardener until his death.
  5. It is often incorrectly reported that St. Maria Goretti’s body is incorrupt. Her skeletal remains are contained in a wax figure of her and are encased in a glass coffin.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

O God, author of innocence and lover of chastity,who bestowed the grace of martyrdomon your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth,grant, we pray, through her intercession,that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness,so we, too, may be firmin obeying your commandments.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen.