Saint Maria Goretti
St. Maria Goretti (1890–1902) was born in Italy to a humble farming family. Her father died from malaria when she was 9, leaving the family destitute. Her mother and older siblings worked in the fields while Maria managed the household chores and cared for her younger siblings. One summer day while the family was in the fields, Maria was attacked by their neighbor, a 19-year-old boy named Alessandro, who attempted to rape her. Maria wasn't yet 12 years old. She fought back, yelling to him that it was a sin and that he would go to hell for his actions. In a rage over her refusal, Alessandro stabbed Maria fourteen times. Doctors operated to save her life, without anesthesia, and Maria lingered for two days after the attack. She verbally forgave Alessandro for his crime, offered her suffering to God, and died while holding a crucifix. Alessandro went to prison for murder, full of hardness of heart. One day in prison Maria appeared to him in a dream. She placed 14 white lilies, one at a time, into his hands; one for each of the times he stabbed her. This stunning experience of forgiveness brought him to repentance, and Alessandro was converted. Upon leaving prison he sought reconciliation with Maria's mother and with the Church. Alessandro called Maria "his little saint" and prayed to her daily. He also attended her canonization Mass in 1950. Alessandro joined the Franciscans as a lay brother until his death in 1970. St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of children, youth, young girls, the poor, martyrs, purity, poverty, chastity, rape victims, and forgiveness. Her feast day is July 6th.
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