The canonization of Saint Maria Goretti (1890-1902), which drew an immense crowd of 250,000 attendees, stands as a testament to the profound influence of her poignant life story that touched millions across the globe.

Maria was the daughter of a financially-strained Italian tenant farmer. Despite never having the chance to attend school or learn to read or write, her spiritual depth was remarkable. By the time she partook in her First Communion, she was comparatively older and less academically advanced than her peers, yet her commitment to her faith remained unwavering.

One sweltering afternoon in July, an event unfolded that would seal Maria’s fate and set the stage for her future sainthood. The barely twelve-year-old Maria, physically mature for her age, was repairing a shirt atop the stairs of her family home. Suddenly, a cart pulled up, and Alessandro, an 18-year-old neighbor, charged up the stairs, assaulting Maria and dragging her into a nearby bedroom. Throughout the traumatic ordeal, Maria vehemently resisted and called for divine intervention, warning Alessandro of the mortal sin he was about to commit.

After the violent confrontation, Maria was transported to a hospital where she spent her final hours. Even amidst her personal suffering, her empathetic and compassionate nature shone through. She expressed concerns for her mother’s comfort, offered forgiveness to her attacker (whom she had feared yet never spoken out against to avoid burdening his family), and enthusiastically embraced her last Holy Communion. Roughly 24 hours post the traumatic incident, Maria succumbed to her injuries.

Alessandro, Maria’s assailant, was condemned to a 30-year prison sentence. For a considerable period, he remained defiant and moody, showing no remorse for his actions. However, one night, a transformative dream featuring Maria offering him flowers initiated a profound shift in his disposition. Upon release from prison after serving 27 years, a reformed Alessandro sought Maria’s mother to plead for her forgiveness, marking the beginning of his penitence journey.

Maria’s martyrdom inspired devotion and reverence, prompting reports of miracles associated with her. In less than fifty years after her demise, she was canonized. Notably, her mother, then aged 82, along with two of Maria’s sisters and a brother, graced the beatification ceremony in 1947, standing alongside Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, an emotional 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli was spotted amidst the crowd of a quarter-million, shedding tears of joy and redemption.

Photo credit: Zvonimir Atletic /
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  1. My grand-daughter, Agnes Maria, was born on June 17. It was a difficult pregnancy, and she will have some disabilities. We pray daily for Saint Maria Goretti and Saint Agnes to intercede on her behalf.

  2. St Maria Goretti, please intercede to our Lord Jesus for my teenage daughter, Amanda Rose, that she be healed from polycystic ovarian syndrome and type 1 diabetes.

    Thank you

  3. first time when I heard about Saint Maria Goretti, I felt sick to my stomach, 2 wks later, today I can pray for her intercession. thanks for the opportunity provided by ucatholic.

  4. thank you for the clear story – have known about, but nice to know the facts in a simplified way that is understandable – had never known of Aless. dream about her.

  5. She was also the Only saint to have Her Mother there when Canonized, she is from Corinaldo Italy, (ancona). The town was going to kill the man that hurt her and she said, No dont, I forgive him, and want him in heaven with me. thats why she was sainted, Because she pretty much saved his life.

  6. Happy Feast Saint Maria Goretti – please intercede to Jesus for all my nephews, nieces and their children to lead a holy life and may they be filled with His Grace – Amen.

  7. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us. Instill the virtues of modesty and chastity and restraint in our young people. Not everyone needs a university degree to attain wisdom, as you did at such a young age. To recognize and condemn the sin and yet love the sinner. Teach us how. Heal us. Amen.

  8. St. Maria Goretti, please pray for the reversion of our child to Christ. Please pray for their healing spiritually, corporally, mentally, and emotionally. Amen.


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