Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Today, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young girl who gave her life for Christ when she was only twelve years old. Was she ordered to deny Christ? No. Was she commanded by persecutors to spit upon a cross (as often happened in other times, with other martyrs)? No. Why did she die a martyr’s death? For Holy Purity. She resisted an attacker who wanted to rape her, to strip her of her virginal purity. She fought him, and died for it. Yet she also forgave her attacker, and promised that she would intercede for him from her place in heaven — and she did, in fact, win his conversion. Years later, when Alessandro Saranelli was released from prison, he got a job working as a gardener at the parish church (nobody else would hire him). And who was the housekeeper for the priests? Maria Goretti’s mother. When he asked her if she could ever forgive him, she replied that Maria had forgiven him, and she had as well — years before. When St. Maria Goretti was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII, Alessandro stood next to Maria’s mother at the Mass of Canonization. What powerful graces our God gives to those who repent of their sins! And what a powerful example St. Maria is for us today — that we too are called to live in holy purity, and to let nothing, and no power on earth, keep us from being faithful to Christ Jesus our Lord!