Nettuno, Italy: Saint Maria Goretti Shrine
About Saint Maria Goretti:
Known throughout the world as a saint who not only defended her chastity, but perhaps even more significantly, shed her blood in an effort to prevent her assailant from committing a grave sin. Born in a small village in Italy in the year 1890, Saint Maria Goretti lost her father at age 10 and the family had to move in with the neighboring Serenilli family. Unfortunately both the father (Giovnni Serenilli) and the son (Alessandro Serenilli) drank heavily, cursed loudly, put pornographic pictures on the wall of the house and were not in any way religious.
Since her mother had to help with the crops in the field, Maria was in charge of the household. She often prayed the rosary, and although she could not read, she had many prayers memorized. In 1902 while everyone was out in the fields Alessandro approached Maria and attempted to rape her. She resisted, warning him that it was a sin and he would go to hell. Despite her pleas he became enraged and stabbed her multiple times. Fatally wounded, she survived another 20 hours after the attack (it took that long to get medical aid to her) during which time she received Holy Communion and forgave her attacker.
Alessandro, however, was un-repentant even after receiving a 30-year prison sentence. Then, one night in his cell he had a vision: Maria Goretti approached him with lilies in her arms. At this point he experienced a complete conversion, and after being released from prison, as an act of penance, he became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until his death in 1970.
Saint Maria Goretti was Beatified in 1947 and Canonized in 1950. Her own mother and other family members attended the Beatification. Although stories have spread that Alessandro himself attended, we could find no evidence to support this. His life and conversion are a powerful testament to the spirit of forgiveness to which all Christians are called.
Saint Maria Goretti is Patron Saint of Chastity, teenage girls, youth, victims of rape and perhaps most importantly, forgiveness. Her feast day is July 6th.
About the Shrine of St. Maria Goretti:
Known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Graces and Saint Maria Goretti, it is located in Nettuno. You can see the reliquary that contains the relics of the saint’s body in the Basilica and then see the farmhouse where she was murdered (the kitchen is now a chapel), as well as the room in which she lived.
Please note: St. Maria Goretti’s body is not incorrupt. It experienced natural degradation when it was interred in the cemetery of Nettuno, Italy, following her murder. Inside the casket is a wax statue within which repose her skeletal remains. The skeleton is complete, save for small amounts of bone that have been placed in reliquaries, and her right arm, which was donated by her mother to the Church of St. Nicholas (now known as the Sanctuary of St. Maria Goretti) in her birth town of Corinaldo. It was with her right arm that Maria defended her purity and prevented Alessandro Serenelli from raping her.
Traveling to Nettuno:
Nettuno is about is 40 miles south of Rome, near the town of Anzio (site of the World War II Allied invasion). There are trains almost every hour from Rome and the journey takes a little over one hour. From the train station in Nettuno it is about a 45-minute walk or you can take a taxi to the shrine.
In addition to the Shrine, the American Cemetery in Nettuno is a popular destination with those from the U.S. Here you will find the graves of 7,861 American military war dead. The majority of these individuals died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; and in the landings at Anzio Beach.
Address: Viale Padre Mauro Liberati, 00048 Nettuno RM, Italy
GPS coordinates: 41° 27′ 24.5376” N, 12° 40′ 5.3184” E
e-mail: use the contact form on their website.
Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Nettuno
Nettuno is also a charming little city, and might can be a nice break from Rome or large other cities in Italy. Try spending a day or two here if you can.