Maria Goretti was born in 1890. Her parents were very poor peasants. Maria’s father died of malaria leaving Maria’s mother working in the fields while Maria took over the role of caring for the five other little children in the family.Everyone noticed Maria was cheerful, intelligent, kind and frequently prayed at the shrine of the Virgin Mary.
Maria’s family lived together in a building with Signor Serenelli and his son, Alessandro. By 1902, Alessandro was bullying Maria on a daily basis.
On July 5, Alessandro grabbed Maria and attacked her. Maria fought him off. She was badly hurt and, although the doctors tried to save her, she died the next day.
During those last hours, she forgave her attacker. Unrepentant, Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. There he had a vision of Maria – she was dressed in white gathering lilies, smiling and handing him the flowers, he repented. Once released, Alessandro became a monk.
Almost fifty years later on June 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII stood on the steps of St. Peter's in Rome and pronounced Maria Goretti a Saint and Martyr. Maria was cheerful despite the poverty of her family situation, was kind and caring of her brothers and sisters, lived simply but with great faith and love for God. She is a wonderful model of a child saint who lived with grace even in the face of hardship and violence.