Share this story

Be Innocent: St. Maria Goretti

Feast day: July 6

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called the meek blessed. He also demonstrated vividly that he was meekness itself, and therefore innocent. Innocence in this sense means to know nothing of evil at all. 

In a similar way, St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902) was innocent. Born to a poor farming family in Italy, she lived only 11 years. She was brutally stabbed 14 times by the much older Alessandro Serenelli, whose family shared the same house as Maria’s family. She was killed because she refused to give in to the advances of Alessandro. As he pressed her, she reportedly cried out that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin that would result in his eternal damnation.

St. Maria lived for 24 hours after the attack, during which time she expressed forgiveness for her murderer and declared her wish that he might join her in heaven. Alessandro eventually repented after St. Maria appeared to him in a dream. He became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, and lived in a monastery until his death in 1970. 

The witness of St. Maria Goretti testifies to the power of forgiveness and praying for our enemies as we travel the path to holiness.