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Corinaldo, Italy: Birthplace of Saint Maria Goretti

About Saint Maria Goretti:

Born here in 1890, Maria was the third of six children and quite poor. When she was nine, her father died of malaria. Maria’s mother dutifully took her husband’s place in the fields, while little Maria took her mother’s role in caring for her siblings. The family survived by working the fields of a Count, a job they shared with a man named Giovanni Serenelli and his teenage son Alessandro. This left Maria alone to care for her youngest sibling, Theresa.

Alessandro had harassed Maria with impure advances, all of which she has vehemently rejected. Then, on July 5, 1902, Alessandro tried to rape Maria. She fought against him, shouting, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” and warning him that this was the path towards hell. When Maria declared that she would rather die than submit to this sin, Alessandro angrily grabbed her and stabbed her 14 times with a knife and then fled to his bedroom, where he pretended to be asleep.  When  Theresa woke up and began to cry, the family discovered Maria lying on the floor. She survived for 20 hours in the hospital, undergoing surgery without anesthesia. Asked if she forgave her murderer, she replied, “Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him…and I want him to be with me in Paradise”.   She died on July 6, 1902.

Alessandro, un-repentant, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In his eleventh year of imprisonment, he had an apparition of Maria. He saw a young girl, dressed in white, gathering lilies in a garden. She smiled, and came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he accepted them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared.

After that, Alessandro became a completely different person. He was released from prison after serving 28 years. His first act was to travel to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness. He then found a job as a gardener in a Capuchin monastery, a job he held for the rest of his life.

In 1950, she was canonized in a ceremony attended by a quarter million people, including her mother, the first mother ever to see her child canonized.

We celebrate the Feast of Saint Maria Goretti on July 6.

About Corinaldo:

Just outside of town, you will find the simple farmhouse where she lived, typical of the times:  downstairs was the barn, and  upstairs there were three rooms that the family inhabited.

In the Sanctuary Church here your will find a relic of her right arm, the arm she raised to defend herself from her killer, Alessandro. In addition it contains the tombs of her mother, Assunta, & Maria’s repentant killer, Alessandro Serenelli.

Photos credit Father John S. Hogan, OCDS.

Traveling to Corinaldo:

There is no direct train service, but there is a combination of train and bus from Loreto.


Note: you will find the shrine of Saint Maria Goretti, with her body , in Nettuno, Italy, not far from Naples.


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