Washington, 05 July, 2022 / 8:30 pm (ACI Africa).
Catholics worldwide celebrate the feast day of one of the youngest saints on July 6: St. Maria Goretti. At just 11 years old, she died a martyr after being fatally stabbed. Today, the Church recognizes her example of purity — and forgiveness.
Goretti was born into poverty in 1890 in Corinaldo, Italy. When she was nine years old, her father died from malaria. An example of piety and virtue from a young age, she prayed the rosary every night in repose for her father’s soul. Goretti also took on many responsibilities — caring for her younger siblings and performing household chores — so that her mother could take her father’s place working in the fields as a farmer.
On July 5, 1902, a 20-year-old neighboring farmhand, Alessandro Serenelli, attempted to rape Goretti. While Serenelli had made sexual advances before, she rejected him each time in the name of God. This time, she rejected him again, shouting, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" When Goretti declared that she would rather die, Serenelli stabbed her 14 times.
After being rushed to a hospital, she underwent surgery without anesthesia. She died the following day. Before going to heaven, she forgave her murderer, declaring, “Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise."
While serving his 30-year prison sentence, Serenelli repented for his sins after Goretti appeared to him in a vision and offered him 14 lilies representing her 14 stab wounds.