St. Maria Goretti: a model of forgiveness and mercy

“Even if she had not been a martyr, Maria would still have been a saint, so holy was her everyday life.” (Cardinal Salotti)


Have you met Maria? If not, read her story here. It is shocking, heart-tugging and gut-wrenching. Hers is a story of mercy. At too young an age, Maria faced the worst of injustices. Her father had died when she was young and to make ends meet, her family and the neighboring family lived and worked together. The neighbor boy, Alessandro, struggled with addiction and Maria, although only 9 or 10, was wise enough and smart enough to keep her distance. One day, he cornered her and attacked her, stabbing her and leaving her with 14 wounds. On her deathbed, the young, brave and innocent 11 year-old, after facing an extreme injustice, forgave Alessandro.


Every time I hear her story, I’m in shock. Instead of crying out, “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Maria forgave and united herself with Christ in His mercy. After being attacked in a terrifyingly gruesome way, she showed love. She showed compassion for the struggles of her attacker and forgave him. She survived long enough after being stabbed to speak mercy on her deathbed.


I pray no one ever experiences the same injustices that Maria did, but we will face something. It is inevitable. Because we live in a fallen world and we are broken people, we will find ourselves in a difficult situation or left to wrestle with seemingly impossible challenges. In the midst of infertility, infant loss and miscarriage, we may initially feel without hope, lost and angry. Our saintly sister reminds us we can choose mercy over anger. Even when all seems lost and we are faced with what we think is the worst of it, we can choose love and forgiveness.


While he was incarcerated, Maria came to Alessandro in a vision, bringing him 14 lilies. He did not know Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed but after this vision, he turned his life around. He served the remainder of his sentence humbly, sought her family’s forgiveness after his 27-year sentence and joined religious life. He attended her canonization along with 250,000 others. Many struggling with sexual addiction look to him for help.


Consider bringing Maria alongside you as a saintly sister. She knows what it feels like to be scared, lost, worried and how to cling to Christ through the worst of it. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.


“He loves, He hopes, He waits. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep us waiting an instant.” (St. Maria Goretti)

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