I find the biography of Saint Maria Goretti fascinating.
I am often intrigued by the piety and simple faith children exhibit.
They have so much to teach us. I think we adults ought to humble ourselves from time to time by following their example.
After all, it was Christ Himself Who said we ought to have a child-like trust in Him (Matthew 18:3).
In a culture like ours saturated with impurity from porn, sex addiction, and so forth, the biography of Saint Maria Goretti is a breath of fresh air to take in.
In addition to being a patroness for chastity and purity, this virgin martyr is also a patroness for forgiveness. Once you read her story below, you will see why.
I encourage you to develop a devotion to this saint, especially if you struggle in the areas of purity and chastity.
KUKLA FAMILY DEVOTION
We (the Kukla family) have developed a devotion to this wonderful saint. Upon learning the biography of Saint Maria Goretti, my wife and I were drawn to her.
We think purity and chastity are virtues worth preserving still, especially in a time like this. We try to instill these virtues in our children.
Our devotion to Saint Maria Goretti was on full display when we named our youngest daughter after her. We gave her the middle name of Marietta, meaning ‘Little Maria’ or ‘Little Mary.’ This was Saint Maria Goretti’s nickname growing up.
I learned that from a priest who gave a short biography of Saint Maria Goretti in a daily Mass sermon a couple years ago. My wife agreed we could borrow that for daughter.
In October 2015 the relics of Saint Maria Goretti passed through town where I was living. I immediately seized the opportunity to visit her relics.
My wife and kids were out of town, but I was able to make it. Our dear Bishop Joseph Strickland lead a procession of her relics into the Cathedral. All day long the public was allowed to come venerate her relics and to go home with third-class relics.
Below is a picture I took just before taking my turn to briefly venerate this virgin martyr for Christ.
BIOGRAPHY OF SAINT MARIA GORETTI
What follows is a short biography of Saint Maria Goretti, courtesy of mariagoretti.com. (All emphasis my own.)
“St. Maria Goretti is unique in that she is the youngest canonized saint in the Church. She died tragically on July 6, 1902, at the age of eleven.
“Born into poverty, her father moved the family when Maria was just six years old from the east side of Italy (near Ancona) to the west side (near Nettuno, about 40 miles south of Rome) in hopes of escaping the grinding poverty that was gripping the area.
“Just three years later, when Maria was nine, her father died tragically. It fell to her at that time to raise her five siblings while her mother worked the fields to produce the crops with which they would both pay the rent and feed themselves.
“This was a terrible time of trial and suffering for the whole family. For Maria it was especially difficult. Aside from having the responsibility of caring for her family, she had to also cook and clean for her two next door neighbors–Giovanni Serenelli and his son, Alessandro–who assisted her mother with the farm tasks.
“It was also during this time that Alessandro began to develop an impure liking for Maria. The big 20-year-old would say rude and crude things to her, things that were inappropriate and embarrassing, and that would cause her to run away. However, at a certain point he began to make direct sexual advances towards her, demanding her virginity and threatening her with violence for non-compliance.
“Finally, after many months of this, Alessandro forced himself upon Maria in an attempt to rape her. Though she prevented him from violating her, Alessandro brutally stabbed her numerous times. Maria died the next day in the midst of horrendous infection brought on by her lacerations.
“Her last words were, ‘I forgive Alessandro Serenelli… and I want him with me in heaven forever.’
“During his prison sentence Maria appeared to Alessandro and forgave him. That act of mercy and forgiveness—that act of love—filled Alessandro with contrition for his crime. It was also a turning point for him where grace entered his heart. From that point on, he lived a beautiful and converted life of holiness, eventually becoming a Franciscan lay brother.
“Before his death Alessandro Serenelli wrote a beautiful open letter to the world. You can read it here: http://mariagoretti.org/alessandrobio.htm.
“Maria is known as a wonder-worker. She has intervened with the Lord to produce countless miracles. Of all the saints (over 160) whose relics Fr. Carlos Martins, Director of Treasures of the Church, ministers with, Maria is the one who by far has produced the most miracles.”
The Church celebrates this 11-year-old martyr’s Feast Day on July 6th.
Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!
Do you see why knowing the biography of Saint Maria Goretti will help you to persevere in the virtue of chastity?
Do you have a devotion to this great saint and wish to leave a comment below?
Or, maybe you too got to venerate her relics and can relate your experience.
Please don’t be shy and share your thoughts below!