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St. Maria Goretti - July 6th

Patron of youth, young women, purity & victims of rape

St. Maria Goretti - July 6th
St. Maria Goretti - July 6th

Maria was born in Corinaldo, Italy on October 16, 1890. Her father was a farm worker who died from malaria when Maria was young. Her mother, Assunta, struggled to feed Maria and her brothers and sisters. Due to life’s struggles, Maria was mature for her age and focused on her faith in God.

Just a few months before her twelfth birthday, on July 5, 1902, one of her neighbors, Alessandro, tried to rape Maria who resisted saying that she would rather die than submit. Alessandro was enraged and stabbed her multiple times with a knife.

On July 6th, as she lay dying of her injuries, she forgave Alessandro. Maria was declared a saint in 1950 and is called a martyr because she fought off the sexual attack, was determined to remain pure and asked God to forgive her attacker.

Alessandro Serenelli was captured and due to his young age was given 30 years in prison instead of a death sentence. He remained unrepentant for several years until he had a dream about Maria, who appeared to him in a garden and gave him lilies. He became a changed man, repented his crime and lived a reformed life. He was released after 27 years in prison and visited Maria’s mother asking for her forgiveness. Assunta forgave Alessandro because Maria had forgiven him and they attended Mass and received the Eucharist together.

Every day, Alessandro prayed to Maria Goretti and even called her “my little saint.” She was canonized by Pope Pius XXIII on June 24, 1950 for her purity as a model for all youth. Alessandro, Assunta and several of Maria’s siblings were in the crowd at St. Peter’s at the canonization.

Alessandro became a lay brother of the Order of Friars and lived in a monastery until his death in 1970.

St. Maria Goretti, Pray for us!