|Body of St. Maria Goretti at St. NIcholas of Bari Parish|
This past weekend we had the opportunity to visit
and pray beside the body of St. Maria Goretti at St. Nicholas of Bari Parish. It’s a privilege to see and visit the relics of saints, but in this
case visitors got to see the entire body. With all the talk and the recent
media coverage in Toronto about Bill 13, the fatal shooting at Eaton Centre and
the brutal murder in Montreal, the visit of one of our saints is a wonderful spiritual antidote to it all.
women, purity and rape victims. Her body will visit a number of churches in Toronto, Ottawa
and Montreal. The body normally rests in a shrine in Nettuno, Italy. So it was very
appropriate, considering all the recent radical sexual curriculum changes in our schools, that she first visited St. Maria Goretti School and parish in Scarborough, followed by St. Nicholas of Bari Parish, St. Clare’s Parish, Light of Christ Mausoleum Westminster cemetery and finally the body was taken to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland.
Maria Goretti died in the Italian town of Ferrari. Her mother and father worked as simple sharecroppers. She was born in 1890 and died in 1912. It was
her neighbour Alessandro Serenelli who tried to sexually abuse her before her 12th birthday. Maria refused his sexual advances and said to him, “But what are you doing Alessandro? God is not pleased, you will go to hell.” Alessandro wouldn’t listen and stabbed her
14 fourteen times. She didn’t die immediately after the attack. In her final
hours of her life, she forgave Alessandro who was only twenty years old. Her family and those that knew her were shocked at what happened, but they were also moved by the act of forgiving
the man who had tried to kill her. She did this even as she faced certain death. It’s extraordinary that so much Christian charity can came from someone so young, so pure and so innocent.
Pope Pius XII canonized Maria in 1950. The Pope talked
of her as a martyr with an extraordinary Christian virtue. At her canonization
both her mother and father were present and her killer. In jail, Serenelli
wasn’t sorry for what he did until Maria appeared to him in a dream where she
forgave him. Some people may find it strange and difficult to understand why we visit the body of a dead saint. But for
those of us who believe in the communion of the saints we are visiting a family
member. A holy person who gave us a perfect example, in Maria’s case of
purity, of chastity and respect for one’s body as made in the image of God, and
so it’s only natural to visit them and ask for their prayers and for their
“Her martyrdom began on July 5, 1902. The family of her assailant shared the same house with the Gorettis . It was located above an old barn among the poor farmers of the Pontine Marshes south of Rome. Her assailant, Alessandro, was twenty years old at the time of the attack on the 12 year old Maria. He later testified that Maria appealed to him to stop his assault for the safety of his soul and urged him not to commit such a grave sin. Before dying of stab wounds the following day, she forgave him and prayed that God would forgive him.
|St. Maria Goretti|
“Like Flannery O’Connor, St. Maria Goretti, whose memorial the Church just celebrated on July 6, understood that purity was intimately connected with the dignity of the human body. She was aware that the Church taught that it was not the soul but the body which will arise, glorified. With the Church she confessed each Sunday, ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body.’ She witnessed to the mystery that the Incarnation and resurrection of Jesus are the true laws of nature, of the flesh and of the physical.
St Maria Goretti, Pray for us!” Amen!
Martyr on earth and
Angel in Heaven,
from your glory turn your gaze
on these people who love you,
venerate you, glorify and exalt you.
On your forehead, clear and shining,
you bear the victorious
name of Christ (Rv 3: 12);
on your virginal face is the
power of love,
the constancy of fidelity to the
you became a Bride of blood,
to print his image within you.
To you, who can powerfully influence
the Lamb of God,
we entrust these sons and daughters
and all the others who are spiritually
united to us.
They admire your heroism,
but especially, they long to imitate
you with the zeal of faith and
incorruptible moral purity.
To you fathers and mothers turn,
that you may assist them in their
In you, through Our hands,
all children and young people
so that they may be protected from
and advance on the path of life
in the serenity and joy
of the pure in heart. So be it!”.
And so may it be for us all! Amen.