Born on October 16 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona Province in Italy, her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When he died of malaria, Maria's mother had to struggle to feed her children.
Maria's mother, brothers, and sisters worked in the
fields while she cooked, sewed, kept the house clean, and watched her
youngest sister Teresa. Though the family's circumstances were extremely
difficult, they were very close and loved God.
On July 5, 1902,
Maria was sitting outside the steps of her home sewing her 18-year-old
brother or neighbor -it is unclear which - Alessandro's shirt while he
threshed beans in the barnyard. As she concentrated on her sewing,
Alessandro surprised her and grabbed her from her steps. When he tried
to rape her, Maria cried that it was a mortal sin and warned he would go
When Alessandro persisted, she fought him and screamed,
"No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" At her words, Alessandro began
to choke her and she said she would rather die than submit. Upon
hearing her words, Alexander pulled out a knife and stabbed her eleven
times. When she attempted to reach the door, he stabbed her three more
times then fled.
Teresa woke to the sounds of her sister's cries
and began to cry. Maria's family returned home and found her bleeding on
the floor. They quickly took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno,
where she underwent surgery without anesthesia.
her wounds were beyond the surgeon's ability to help. Halfway through
the surgery, the man asked her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise."
As she lay on the table, she looked up at him and said, "Well, who knows which of us is going to be there first?"
She did not realize how terrible her situation was, and the surgeon replied, "You, Maria."
said, "Then I will think gladly of you." She also mentioned concerns
for her mother. The next day, Maria forgave Alessandro and said she
wanted to see him in Heaven with her. She died that day while looking
upon an image of the Virgin Mary and holding a cross to her chest.
after Maria's family discovered her, Alexander was captured and
questioned. He admitted Maria was a physical virgin as he was unable to
assault her and he was sentenced to thirty years. He also admitted he
had attempted to persuade her to accompany him to bed on several
occasions in the past and had attempted to rape her before.
remained unrepentant for his actions until he had a dream that he was
in a garden. Maria was there and gave him lilies, which immediately
burned in his hands. When he woke, he was a changed man. He repented his
crime and living a reformed life. When he was released 27-years-later,
he went directly to Maria's mother and begged her forgiveness, which she
gave, saying, "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold
Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in a ceremony at Saint Peter's Basilica on April 27, 1947.
years later, on June 24, 1950, Maria was declared a saint and
Alessandro was present in the St. Peter's crowd to celebrate her
canonization. He later became a laybrother of the Order of Friars Minor
Capuchin, where he lived in a monastery and worked as its receptionist
and gardener until his death.
Saint Maria is called a martyr
because she fought against Alessandro's attempts at sexual sin; however,
the most important aspects of her story are how she forgave her
attacker - her concern for her enemy extending even beyond death - and
the miracle her forgiveness produced in his life.
body can be found in the crypt of the Basilica of Nostra Signora delle
Grazie e Santa Maria Goretti in Nettuno. Though several claim her body
is incorrupt, she has been proven to be corrupt. Her body is kept in a
statue which lies beneath the altar and has been mistaken to be all of