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St. Maria Goretti (July 6)

St. Maria Goretti was born at Corinaldo, Italy, in 1890, into a poor family of farm laborers. Her father, Luigi, moved the family and later died in 1896, and his wife had to work hard in the fields to support the family of six children. On July 5, 1902 Maria was attacked in her home by eighteen-year-old Alexander Serenelli. Alexander was the son of her father's partner and lived in the Goretti's house. Maria, not quite twelve years old, was dragged into one of the bedrooms by Alexander. She resisted his advances and was stabbed repeatedly with a long dagger. Maria was rushed to the hospital, and as she lay dying, she prayed that Alexander would be forgiven and that her family would be provided for. On July 6, 1902, after receiving viaticum (Holy Communion given to those in danger of death), she died in the presence of her mother, two nuns, the parish priest, and a Spanish noblewoman. Her death profoundly moved the people of Italy and stirred worldwide notice. Alexander was sentenced to thirty years in prison nd remained unrepentant. One night, however, he had a dream of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. He became a changed man and was released from prison after twenty-seven years because of good conduct. Alexander Serenelli was alive when Maria was canonized on July 25, 1950 by Pope Pius XII.