Patron Saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape
Maria was born in Italy in 1890, however her father died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children.
In 1902 an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather died than submit, Alexander began stabbing her.
As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. Her death didn’t end her forgiveness, however.
Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness,” she said.
She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth. Maria Goretti died a martyr before her twelfth birthday. Young as she was, she made a choice, a choice based on her faith.
Challenge: How can you stand up for your faith this week? Part of discerning your vocation is learning to stand up for what you truly believe.