Saint Maria Goretti is an Italian virgin-martyr and one of the most beloved saints of the 20th century. She is the patron saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape. Her remarkable life story has inspired countless people around the world to embrace faith and forgiveness in the face of great adversity.
Maria Goretti was born on October 16th, 1890, in Corinaldo, a small town in the region of Marche, Italy. Her family lived in poverty, and they moved frequently to find work. Maria was known for her cheerful personality, piety, and love for the Lord. She was only 11 years old when her father died, leaving her mother and siblings to struggle even more.
In 1902, Maria and her family moved to Ferriere di Conca, near Nettuno, where they shared a house with a neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli. On July 5th, 1902, while Maria was mending clothes, Alessandro attempted to rape her. When she resisted and threatened to scream, he stabbed her 14 times. Maria forgave her attacker before dying the next day, July 6th, 1902.
Maria's death was a great tragedy, but it also became a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world. Her story of forgiveness and courage has inspired many to embrace a life of faith and virtue.
Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his crime, and during his time behind bars, he had a profound conversion. He became a devout Catholic and was eventually released from prison in 1928. Alessandro sought forgiveness from Maria's mother and attended her beatification in 1947 and her canonization in 1950.
Saint Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII on April 27th, 1947, and was canonized on June 24th, 1950, by the same pope. Her feast day is celebrated on July 6th, the anniversary of her death.
She is the youngest canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church and also is also one of the most popular saints in the world, especially in Italy, where many churches and schools are dedicated to her. In addition, her life story has been the subject of numerous books, movies, and plays.
On her feast day in 2003, Pope John Paul II spoke about Saint Maria Goretti at his Sunday Angelus, noting that her life provides an exemplary witness of what it means to be “pure of heart.”
Saint Maria Goretti is a shining example of forgiveness, courage, and faith. Her life story has inspired countless people to embrace the Catholic faith and to strive for virtue and purity in their own lives.