St. Maria Goretti
Maria was born in 1890. Her father died when she and the other five children in her family were small. At twelve, Maria was already very pretty. She helped her mother on the farm, in the house and with the care of the other children. She never complained because they were so poor. In fact, she cheered up her poor mother and was a great comfort to her. She went to Mass regularly even though it meant a two-hour walk. Maria also received the sacrament of Reconciliation as often as she could.
A young neighbor, Alexander, tried a few times to make Maria sin. She absolutely refused. She did her best to avoid him. July 5, 1902, was a hot summer day. Maria was alone in the cottage mending clothes. Alexander came again to try to make her sin. He dragged her into a room. When she tried to scream, he stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth. Yet Maria managed to keep saying, "No, no! It is a mortal sin. God doesn't want it. If you commit it, you will go to hell." And she struggled as much as she could. Alexander panicked. He stabbed her furiously with a dagger. Then he ran away.
Maria was taken to a hospital, where she died about twenty-four hours later. During her last hours, she forgave her murderer. Her only worry was for her mother. With great joy, the girl received Jesus in Holy Communion. Then she went to heaven. Alexander was sent to prison. For a long time, he did not repent of his horrible crime. Then one night he had a dream or vision of Maria offering him flowers. From that moment on, he was a changed man. When he was freed from prison after twenty-seven years, his first visit was to the Goretti home. He asked Maria's mother for forgiveness. Then Alexander spent the rest of his life as the gardener in a nearby monastery.
Maria was declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XII on April 27, 1947. He appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's with Maria's eighty-two-year-old mother, Assunta. Three years later, on July 25, 1950, the same pope declared Maria a saint. He called her "a martyr of holy purity."
Today we may want to pray for women who have suffered abuse.