St. Maria Goretti – Patroness of Youth
St. Maria Goretti was born in 1890 and died in 1902. Her mother and father were poor tenant farmers who moved about from place to place until finally settling in the small village of Ferriere di Conca. In their extreme poverty, they were obliged to share the land and house of an unscrupulous farmer named Giovanni Serenelli.
Worn out by hard work, Maria’s father died not long after their arrival in the village and Maria and her family were left at the mercy of the tyrannical Giovanni. Maria’s mother was forced to carry on her husband’s work in the fields and little Maria was left to look after the household chores and care for the younger children. The food was poor and sparse, the clothes barely enough and yet this tender child cheerfully carried the full burden of an existence that many an adult would find unbearable.
Maria’s mother, while illiterate herself, was nevertheless her daughter’s sole teacher and filled her young heart with a great and abiding love of God from earliest infancy. When the time came to be instructed in the Catholic faith in preparation for First Holy Communion, Maria walked miles to the priest’s house for instruction. She longed for this blessed day with all the love of her innocent heart. On May 29, 1902, on the feast of Corpus Christi, she received the longed for heavenly food, her dearly beloved Jesus.
Not long after, Giovanni’s 19‑year‑old son Alessandro returned to live with his father on the farm. For a long time, the boy had inflamed his passions by the reading of immoral books. Being in such close daily contact with Maria, it was not long before the full measure of his evil passions settled upon the young and delicate child of twelve. Fearful of his advances and with a presentiment of the evil veiled in them, Maria turned more earnestly to prayer and did everything in her power not to be alone with him — she bravely resisted. Fearing to add this burden to her mother’s worries she kept silent. Offended at her rebukes, Alessandro joined his father in swearing, criticizing and heaping abuse upon her. She endured it all in silence and resignation.
On a hot day, July the 6th, 1902, Maria sat outside doing the mending when Alessandro left the field and went into the house. He called for Maria to come but she would not. He reached out and grabbed her and kicked the door shut — he had a dagger in his hand. Still she resisted him. “No Alessandro, no! It is a sin! Don’t do it! You will go to hell, Alessandro! God doesn’t want it!”
In his pent‑up frenzy and burning passion Alessandro stabbed her fourteen times, all in vital parts of her body. Still she lived and, when transported to the hospital, the surgeons could scarce believe she was still alive.
In her last precious hours, Maria became a Child of Mary, received Extreme Unction and the Holy Viaticum. And she forgave Alessandro, expressing her wish to see him in Heaven with her. This delicate child sealed with her life her heroic love of God by accepting death rather than offend God by committing sin!!
“St. Maria Goretti, pray for all the children”.
St. Maria Goretti ‑ In Garments All Red
by Fr. Godfrey Poage, C.P.
The beautiful, true story of the 12‑year‑old girl who died as a martyr of purity in 1902. Describes her virtuous life, her poverty, great maturity, First Communion, valiant resistance, heroic and lingering death, the conversion of her murderer and finally her canonization.
See also page 239 in Lives of the Saints for Every Day in the Year by Father Alban Butler.
This story was compiled from the above books.