Maria Teresa Goretti was born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890. She was the third out of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. By the time she turned six, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm and moved to the Serenelli farm to survive. His father, a farmworker died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children. Her mother, sisters and brother worked in the fields while Maria stayed home to clean the house, sew and cook.
While alone in the house, sewing, Alessandro (Alexander) Serenelli came in and tried to rape her. Maria Goretti was 11. Not submitting to her assailant, she was stabbed several times with a knife.
As Maria Goretti lay in the hospital for two days, she prayed and forgave her attacker and died holding a crucifix and looking at the picture of the Blessed Virgin.
Alexander was captured and since he was a minor the sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden and Maria was there giving him lilies. This vision led to his conversion and later became a laybrother at the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin) where he worked as a receptionist and gardener.
Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 and Assunta attended the canonization of her child. Alexander too witnessed St. Maria Goretti's canonization.
Maria Goretti, one of the youngest canonized saints is represented as a young girl with a bouquet of lilies in her hands.
St. Maria Goretti prayed for Alexander - the first step and act in forgiveness as this let's you focus on God instead of the offender.
To forgive and be forgiven are two powerful, grace-filled experiences.
St Maria Goretti had extended to Alexander the love and forgiveness that God has extended to all of us through Our Lord Jesus Christ's crucifixion. Because of this St Maria Goretti was able to see her assailant as Jesus sees him. She loved as God loves.