Friday, July 06, 2007

St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902), virgin and martyr

1) Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!

2) We have a winner in our contest! Congratulations to "Allie H." for her 'list of excuses we give Jesus'!!
Today is the memorial of one of my favorite saints, Maria Goretti. As the following article from indicates, she died a martyr's death at the age of 12 in order to preserve her virginity, saying to her attacker, "I'd rather die clean for Jesus than live one day unclean for Him".

One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti.

She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class.

On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help, gasping that she would be killed rather than submit. “No, God does not wish it. It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.

She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum. She died about 24 hours after the attack.

Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.

Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.

Maria may have had trouble with catechism, but she had no trouble with faith. God's will was holiness, decency, respect for one's body, absolute obedience, total trust. In a complex world, her faith was simple: It is a privilege to be loved by God, and to love him—at any cost. As the virtue of chastity dies the death of a thousand qualifications, she is a breath of sweet fresh air.

"Even if she had not been a martyr, she would still have been a saint, so holy was her everyday life" (Cardinal Salotti).


At 11:12 AM, Blogger fran said...

Way to go Allie H! You are wise beyond your 15 years, and will no doubt be a beautiful example to others you encounter throughout high school and college.

I don't know why, but when I received my "Picture Book of Saints" for my First Communion many years ago, I was fascinated with the story of St. Maria Goretti.... reading it over and over. Last night my daughter was looking through her own copy of the book, and it opened to her (St. Maria's) story. Imagaine our surprise when read that her Feast Day was going to be today!

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I was reading an article that posed a good question-

If you spent 15 hours each week in church or 15 hours a week reading scripture and praying, would this influence your thoughts and behavior?

15 hours a week is the average amount of time that young people watch TV, and I think it’s probably much more for many kids. This doesn’t take into account the additional time listening to music. Imagine the power this forum has after 15 hours a week for 10 years! None of us seem to question why so many of our youth act in opposition to what we are trying to teach about chaste behavior. So- why, instead of trying to get everyone and anyone to change programming, don’t we simply turn it off?

What would happen if we considered an additional one or two hours of religious ed. and/or involvement versus 15 hours a week of media exposure that condones and promotes actions that goes against what we say we want to teach our children?

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The seminarian's reflection this morning was awesome!

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Marion (Mael Muire) said...

Fran, like you, as a young girl I was totally fascinated with Saint Maria Goretti, also. I had never heard of a woman - much less a child - so brave, so determined. She really inspired me. And still does.


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