Maria Teresa Goretti (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902)
Feast Day: 6 July
Feast Day: 6 July
Honored as one of the first Passionist martyrs. Maria is the patron saint of chastity, rape victims, youth, teenage girls, poverty, purity and forgiveness.
Santa Maria Goretti was born 16 October 1890 in Corinaldo Italy to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. She was the third of six children born into a poor farming family. Maria's father died of malaria when she was only nine years old.
Shortly after, Maria and her family moved to Le Ferriere, Lazio, Italy where they shared a residence with another family, which included Giovanni Serenelli and his son Alessandro.
On 5 July 1902, finding eleven year-old Maria alone in the home caring for her baby sister, Alessandro Serenelli, a nineteen year-old farm hand, entered the home and attacked Maria with the intent to sexually assault her. She fought to stop Alessandro, screaming "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" Alessandro started to choke Maria, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The injured Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stabbed her three more times before running off.
Maria was found bleeding and near death by her mother and Alessandro's father. They took her to a nearby hospital in Nettuno where she was operated on without anesthesia, however her injuries were too grave and she died some twenty hours after the attack. Prior to her death Maria expressed forgiveness for her murderer, stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her.
Alessandro Serenelli was sentenced to 30 years in prison. After his release he visited Maria's still-living mother and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed then she couldn't do less, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side. Alessandro reportedly prayed every day to Maria Goretti and referred to her as "my little saint." He attended her canonization in 1950.
Serenelli later became a lay-brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until dying peacefully in 1970.
On 24 July 1950, Maria Goretti was declared a saint in Saint Peter's Square by Pope Pius XII. Her body is kept in the crypt of the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie e Santa Maria Goretti in Nettuno, south of Rome. It has been often reported that her body is incorrupt but this is not the case. Her remains are kept inside a statue which is lying down beneath the altar.
Tomb of St. Maria Goretti
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