November 26, 2015

All Saints Day & St. Maria Goretti

When we implore the intercession of the saints, they must have recourse to the mediation of Mary to obtain for us these graces. Oh, how many would have failed of being among the blessed in
Heaven, if Mary, by her powerful intercession, had not conducted them thither! To Thee are committed the keys and the treasure of the heavenly Kingdom. Open to us, O Virgin, Heaven, for thou hast the keys of it. Nay, thou art even the gate of it, as the holy Church names thee, “Janua coeli.”
St. Maria Goretti
October 16, 1890: Maria Goretti is born in Corinaldo, Italy, to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini.
October 17, 1890: She is baptized in the Church of San Francesco in Corinaldo with the names, Maria Teresa.
October 4, 1896: She receives the Sacrament of Confirmation by Bishop Giulio Boschi, the Bishop of Senigallia.
December 12, 1896: The Goretti family leaves Corinaldo and emigrates to Colle Gianturco, near Paliano, in the Latium region south of Rome in central Italy.
February, 1899: The family moves again, this time to Le Ferriere di Conca.
May 6, 1900: After being bit by a mosquito infected with malaria, Maria’s father Luigi dies of the disease.
June 16, 1901: Maria receives her First Communion in the church of Conca (today known as Borgo Montello).
July 5, 1902: At 3:30 pm she is stabbed by Alessandro Serenelli after resisting his violent attempt to rape her.
July 6, 1902: Maria dies in Nettuno at the age of 11 years, 8 months and 21 days, after mercifully forgiving her murderer.
July 8, 1902: She is buried in the cemetery of Nettuno.
May 31, 1935: The information-gathering process for her canonization begins in the diocese of Albano Laziale.
March 25, 1945: Pope Pius XII recognizes the authenticity of the martyrdom of Maria Goretti.
April 27, 1947: Maria is beatified.
June 24, 1950: Maria is declared a saint by Pope Pius XII in St. Peter’s Square. Having died at the age of 11, she is the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church’s long and storied history. The attendance at her canonization exceeded one half million souls, the largest of any canonization up to that point and time. It was a crowd so large that for the first time in its history, St. Peter’s Basilica—the largest church in the world—could not be used for a canonization Mass, because it was too small to hold the faithful who desired to witness the event. Thus, St. Maria’s canonization was moved to St. Peter’s Square, being the first open air canonization in history.

 We were very blessed to have the major relic of St. Maria Goretti in our diocese on Oct 16, 2015, on her 125 birthday.  Unfortunately my computer had a major crash and all my pictures from that beautiful event disappeared.  The story of St. Maria Goretti is truly a beautiful one. On her death bed she forgave her murdered and desired he one day be with her in Heaven Her very last words were, " I forgive Alessandro Serenelli... and I want him with me in Heaven forever."

At the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe there is this beautiful picture where Maria appears to Alessandro 6 years after her death. At this time he was an extremely angry person in prison. She presented to him 14 lilies as a sign of her purity and her total forgiveness. After this he began to change.  He spent the next 21 years in prison as a penitent. He had such exemplary behavior and changes so thoroughly that he was released 3 years early.  He went to visit Assunta, Maria's mother who not only lost her daughter but had to give up all her other children for adoption as she was unable to take care of them without Maria. Now that is a heavy cross all around.  Assunta forgave him because God had forgiven him and so had Maria.  She adopted Alessandro.

Here is a lovely picture of Assunta and Alessandro. I love the way they can look at each other in the eyes.  Total forgiveness. How can we not forgive the slight grievances after reading such a beautiful story? Both Assunta and Alessandro were present at Maria's canonization! You can read his story HERE.  He ended up joining the Capuchins and living a life as a penitent. After he died the Capuchins  found a letter he had written a year before in a seal envelope, where he made a public confession for all the world to read. Here is the translation:

I am now almost 80 years old. I am close to the end of my days.
Looking back at my past, I recognize that in my early youth I followed a false road—an evil path that led to my ruin.
Through the content of printed magazines, immoral shows, and bad examples in the media, I saw the majority of the young people of my day following evil without even thinking twice. Unworried, I did the same thing.
There were faithful and practicing Christian believers around me, but I paid no attention to them. I was blinded by a brute impulse that pushed me down the wrong way of living.
At the age of 20, I committed a crime of passion, the memory of which still horrifies me today. Maria Goretti, now a saint, was my good angel whom God placed in my path to save me. Her words both of rebuke and forgiveness are still imprinted in my heart. She prayed for me, interceding for her killer. Thirty years in prison followed.
If I had not been a minor in Italian law I would have been sentenced to life in prison. Nevertheless, I accepted the sentence I received as something I deserved.
Resigned, I atoned for my sin. Little Maria was truly my light, my protectress. With her help, I served those 27 years in prison well. When society accepted me back among its members, I tried to live honestly. With angelic charity, the sons of St. Francis, the minor Capuchins of the Marches, welcomed me among them not as a servant, but as a brother. I have lived with them for 24 years. Now I look serenely to the time in which I will be admitted to the vision of God, to embrace my dear ones once again, and to be close to my guardian angel, Maria Goretti, and her dear mother, Assunta.
May all who read this letter of mine desire to follow the blessed teaching of avoiding evil and following the good. May all believe with the faith of little children that religion with its precepts is not something one can do without. Rather, it is true comfort, and the only sure way in all of life’s circumstances—even in the most painful.
Peace and all good.

Alessandro Serenelli
Macerata, Italy
5 May 1961

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