July 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 12

Saint Of The Month

St. Maria Goretti – July 6

Painting of Saint MariaBorn in 1890, Maria Goreti was one of five children of a poor Italian farm laborer. Needed at home, Maria was unable to attend school and could neither read nor write. Indeed, learning her catechism in preparation for her First Holy Communion was a struggle for the determined and devout child.

One afternoon, while the rest of her family was out in the fields working, young Maria was left to baby-sit her younger sister. A 19 year old neighbor named Alexander, who had been Alike a brother,@ came to the house and forced Maria inside.

When Maria refused to submit, he overpowered her and nearly strangled her. Gasping for breath, she told him what he wanted to do was a sin, and she would rather die than surrender her chastity.

Enraged, Alexander stabbed Maria many times before he left her near death on the floor. She was taken to a hospital, where she forgave her attacker and gratefully received Holy Communion for the last time. Maria died, at peace, with her mother beside her.

Alexander was imprisoned and remained unrepentant, until he had a vision of a girl who offered him some lilies. As he took each lily, it turned into a white flame.

Interpreting the vision as a sign that Maria had forgiven him, Alexander became a model prisoner, and he was freed after serving 27 years of his 30 year sentence. Upon his release, he asked Maria=s mother for forgiveness. He was present in Rome when Pope Pius XII declared Maria a saint in 1950.

Saint Maria Goretti,
strengthened by God's grace,
you did not hesitate,
even at the age of eleven,
to sacrifice life itself
to defend your virginal purity.
Look graciously on the unhappy human race
that has strayed far form the path of eternal salvation.
Teach us all,
and especially our youth,
the courage and promptness
that will help us avoid anything
that could offend Jesus.

Obtain for me a great horror of sin,
so that I may live a holy life on earth
and win eternal glory in heaven.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives