Tomorrow the church celebrates the feast day of a young girl who was martyred for her faith and modeled God’s forgiveness, St. Maria Goretti. Maria was born to a poor farming family in Italy in 1890. When she was eleven years old, Maria’s neighbor Alessandro Serenelli attempted to sexually abuse her. When she tried to resist him and tell him it was a sin, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times. While on her death bead, Maria forgave Alessandro and expressed hopes of seeing him again in heaven. Alessandro Serenelli was sentenced to 30 years in prison and had no remorse for killing her until she appeared to him in a dream. When he awoke, he repented and began to turn his life to God. When he was released from prison, he went and begged Maria’s mother for forgiveness. She responded “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?” In 1950, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria Goretti with her mother and Alessandro in attendance. St. Maria Goretti’s devout love for God and mercy towards Alessandro reminds us how God calls us to love and forgive others as He has done for us.
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