St. Maria Goretti was born in 1890 in Italy. Poverty forced her family to move in with another family who had a son named Alessandro. As she sat knitting a shirt one day, Alessandro attempted to sexually assault her and she resisted, telling Alessandro that such an act was a mortal sin and that God was abhorred at such an act and he would lose his own soul. When she told Alessandro that she would rather die than lose her innocence, Alessandro stabbed her with a knife fourteen times. She was rushed to the doctor who could do nothing to save her life, she lingered for a day after the attack and during that time expressed forgiveness towards Alessandro. She died while holding a crucifix and looking at an image of the Virgin Mary. She was eleven years old.
Alessandro was apprehended and imprisoned Over the course of his incarceration Alessandro was converted and returned to the Church. In 1950, when Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII, Alessandro was present, he eventually joined a religious order before dying himself in 1970. At the end of the canonization ceremony, Pope Pius XII asked the many young people present in St. Peter’s Square, “Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?” He received in return a loud and strong, “yes!” St. Maria Goretti is a patroness of teenage girls and of chastity and purity. Her example gives not only a beautiful illustration of mercy, but also of the beauty of purity, chastity and innocence.
St. Maria Goretti’s relics will be placed in the sanctuary of our church and everyone is invited and encouraged to make a pilgrimage here over the course of next weekend to spend some time in prayer and veneration. Public veneration will begin with a special Mass at 9:00am on Saturday morning in honor of St. Maria Goretti. Veneration will continue that morning until Noon and will begin again after the 5:00pm Mass until 11:00pm Saturday night. Veneration will occur again after the 11:00am Mass on Sunday until 5:00pm Sunday evening.
The hosting of these relics is a great gift to the entire parish community. To have the relics of a saint in our parish church is a source of grace not only for those who will make time to come for the Mass or to simply pray quietly, but also for the entire parish community. Most often, when one desires to pray at the tomb of a saint they will have to travel hundreds of miles, now the tomb of a saint has come to us, this is a blessing from God and one to be truly grateful for – what fruits would be borne in our own hearts, in the hearts of our young people and in the heart of this parish if all of us were to commit to making a visit to her relics over the course of next weekend. In this bulletin you will find a number of prayers which you can bring with you if you would like and pray before her relics, they can also be found on our parish website. I have no doubt that, after this visit, St. Maria Goretti will hold a particular and powerful place in the heart of St. Mary’s Visitation Parish and all of its parishioners.
St. Maria Goretti…pray for us!