Maria Goretti, nicknamed Mariette, was born on October 16th, 1890 in Corinaldo. Her father was dead and she lived with her mother and siblings in the same house as their neighbors, a crippled man and his 17-year-old son. While her mother and brothers worked in the fields, Maria took care of the house and the younger ones. On July 5th, 1902, when Maria was not yet 12 years old, came the tragedy.
While Maria was taking care of her little sister, Alessandro, the young neighbor, entered the room. He pushed her brutally into the kitchen and pulled her against him. Maria, sharply disgusted, exclaimed, “stop, what are you doing?” he replied, “Shut up or I'll kill you! ” Maria, despite her fear, was totally determined. She kept pushing him away, saying to him “Stop, that is a sin, it is not the will of God.” Mad with rage, realizing that he would not get his way, he grabbed an awl and stabbed her savagely fourteen times. When she collapsed on the ground, he ran away to lock himself in his room.
Maria dragged herself to the landing, calling for help. The neighbors ran and discovered the horrible wounds. The doctor was summoned, who arrived as well as the mother, and Maria was placed on her bed, dying. The authorities arrived in turn and protected the young man, who would otherwise have been killed on the spot by the angry neighboring men. The ambulance took Maria to the hospital, while Alessandro was taken to prison.
The girl would suffer a terrible agony in the hospital. Full of courage she bore her sufferings and even manifested her joy at seeing the priest arrive: “You bring me Jesus,” “Yes, Maria,” he replied, “but since Jesus forgave his executioners, do you forgive him who did this to you?” Maria after a brief hesitation answers “Yes, for Jesus’ sake, I forgive him and I want him one day to be with me in Paradise”.
Maria received communion, anointing and the Medal of the Children of Mary. A few hours later, on July 6, 1902, Maria died looking calm and serene.
During the trial of Alessandro, Assunta Goretti, Maria's mother, said, “Mr. President, I forgive him from the bottom of my heart.” Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison, having escaped life imprisonment only because he was a minor. Alessandro Serenelli was incarcerated in Noto Penitentiary in Sicily. He was a difficult prisoner, feared by his fellow inmates and despised by the guards.
However, in his hardened heart, a small breach opened when in 1910, he had a dream with Maria in a garden handing him flowers. At this moment, a spark of repentance was born in him. Shortly after, he received a visit from the bishop of the diocese. Alessandro remained closed, but the bishop said to him: “Alessandro, it seemed to me that maybe there was something you didn’t know, something very important.” The detainee suddenly seemed interested. The bishop continued: “Do you know that before she died, Maria forgave you?” Alessandro started crying bitterly, with his face in his hands almost immediately. The bishop thus let him cry, then received his confession. Seeing his sincere repentance, he gave him the absolution “And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
From then on, the attitude of the prisoner changed completely. He became good, he prayed and read the Bible, and he would spend the remaining nineteen years in prison behaving in an exemplary manner.
In 1929, Alessandro was free. In 1934, he rang at the door of Assunta, Maria's mother. After a brief exchange, he told her, "My redemption will not be complete if I do not obtain your forgiveness. Assunta, will you ever forgive me?” She answered, “My child, my Marietta has forgiven you, God has forgiven you, I forgive you, too.” Subsequently, Alessandro became a member of the Franciscan Third Order and gardener of the Capuchin convent. He died on May 6, 1970, at the age of 87, at the convent of Macerata, leaving a very edifying will.
Maria Goretti was canonized as a virgin and martyr on June 24, 1950 by Pope Pius XII. An impressive crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square, including Assunta. For the first time, a mother witnessed the canonization of her daughter. Mariette is celebrated on the day of her birth in heaven on July 6. This young saint is the patroness of youth and purity.
Child of God, you who experienced misery and pain, suffering and the joys of life at an early age.
You who have been poor and orphaned, you who have tirelessly loved your neighbor by making you a humble and hasty servant, you who have been brave without being proud, you who have loved love above all else, you who have shed your blood so as not to betray your God, you who have forgiven your murderer desiring paradise for him, intervene and pray for us to the Father so that we accept the plan that God has realized for us.
You who are the friend of God, and you are before him, obtain from him the grace that we ask of you (express the desired grace).
We thank you, Marietta, for the love for God and your brothers that you have already sown in our hearts. Amen.”
Saint Maria Goretti
You who, strengthened by the grace of God, did not hesitate, even the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice your life to defend your virgin purity, look at the unfortunate human race that has strayed away from the path of eternal salvation.
Teach us all, and especially the young, with what courage and speed we must flee, for the sake of Jesus, everything that can offend Him or defile our souls with sin. Get us from the Lord the victory in temptation, the comfort in the sorrows of life and the grace that we fervently ask of you.
May we one day enjoy with you the eternal glory of Heaven.
Saint Maria Goretti, please ask Jesus to grant me the grace to be pure in the midst of the daily temptations that surround me. Whatever the cost, let me always be faithful to God. Amen”
There is also a novena to Saint Maria Goretti.