St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902)
Martyr for chastity. Maria was born in Corinaldo, Italy to a family of poor tenant farmers. Unable to go to school, Maria never learned to read or write. Shortly after moving to Ferriere di Conca at the age of ten, Maria’s father contracted malaria and died. This left the poor family in even greater poverty. Alessandro, a farm hand of 18, sought to seduce Maria and force himself upon her. However, Maria, just shy of twelve, refused, resisted, and rebuked Alessandro, saying “It is a sin, You would go to Hell for it.” Alessandro was enraged, stabbed young Maria fourteen times, and left. Maria was taken to hospital, where after about twenty-four hours she died. Before she died, though, she forgave her murderer and prayed that he may join her in Heaven. Alessandro was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment. He was unrepentant, until one day he had a vision of Maria presenting him with fourteen white lilies – a sign of her forgivness. The first thing he did after being released from prison was to beg forgiveness from Maria’s mother. Both Maria’s mother and Alessandro, along with some 250, 000 others, were present for her canonization.
O God, author if innocence and lover of chastity, who bestowed the grace of martyrdom on your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness, so we, too, may be firm in obeying your commandments.