Pilgrimage of Mercy
Mara, Rosie, and I had the privilege of joining with a lively group of friends on a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of St, Maria Goretti. It was a beautiful experience and we all felt blessed to have been so near a holy and humble saint, who bore great witness to purity and the power of forgiveness.
St. Maria is the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church. She died at the age of 11, after being stabbed 14 times by Alessandro Serenelli, a young man who was trying to sexually assault her. As Maria lay dying, the parish priest asked whether she forgave Alessandro, she replied, "Yes, I forgive him and want him to be in Paradise with me some day."
Alessandro went to jail unrepentant. Eight years into his sentence, Maria Goretti came to him in a dream. In the dream Maria was in a beautiful garden where she picked white lilies and handed them to him saying, 'Alessandro, take them!' He accepted the lilies, one by one, fourteen of them. But a strange thing took place. As he received them from her fingers, the lilies did not remain lilies but changed into so many flaming lights. There was a lily turned to purifying flame for every one of the 14 mortal blows he struck her on that fatal day. Maria said smilingly, 'Alessandro, as I have promised, your soul shall someday reach me in heaven.'
From that time on, Alessandro was consumed to make reparation for his awful crime and sin. Several years after his 27 year imprisonment he went to Maria's mother, Assunta Goretti. Begging Assunta's forgiveness, she placed her hands on his head, caressed his face and gently said, "Alessandro, Maria forgave you, Christ has forgiven you, and why should I not also forgive. I forgive you, of course, my son! Why have I not seen you sooner? Your evil days are past, and to me, you are a long-suffering son."
Maria Goretti is the patroness of Purity and Forgiveness.
St. Maria Goretti , pray for us!