440 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
grown in virtue and grace throughout her childhood. She also had a
great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, which she received for the first
time in May of that same year.
Alessandro began stalking Maria and making suggestive advances
towards her, advances that she always unhesitatingly refused. Ultimately,
her refusal sparked him to take matters into his own hands.
On July 5, 1902, Maria—who was not yet twelve years old—was peace-
fully stitching and caring for her little sister, Theresa. Alessandro, who was
eighteen years old, grabbed Maria’s arm, dragged her into the kitchen,
and attempted to rape her. She fought him and pleaded with him to stop,
exclaiming that what he was attempting was a sin forbidden by God. Her
resistance infuriated Alessandro who, after failing to choke her into sub-
mission, stabbed her fourteen times.
Maria was taken to a hospital, where she suffered for an entire day.
Upon gaining consciousness, she fixed her gaze on a statue of the Blessed
Mother that was at the foot of her bed. Before receiving
, she for-
gave Alessandro for what he had done and expressed the desire that he
might join her in heaven. She died of her wounds on July 6, 1902.
Alessandro Serenelli was soon apprehended, convicted, and sen-
tenced to thirty years in prison for his crime. Eight years into his sentence,
Maria appeared to him in a dream. In that dream, Maria gathered lilies,
which she then handed to him. The lilies took on a radiance that assured
him of her forgiveness. This vision led to a conversion, which brought him
into reconciliation with God, the Church, and the Goretti family.
Pope Pius XII canonized Maria Goretti on June 24, 1950. Her mother
Assunta and her murderer Alessandro Serenelli were both present. St.
Maria Goretti has been named the Patroness of Modern Youth. Her love
for her attacker—shown in her forgiveness of him—and her spiritual and
physical purity of heart serve as a model for all Christians. Her purity exem-
plifies the Ninth Commandment.