From September to November of this year, 2015, the major relics of St. Maria Goretti will make a pilgrimage to the United States.
This “Pilgrimage of Mercy” will be the first time that her body travels to the USA.
Let’s take a look at who St. Maria Goretti was. Her father, Luigi Goretti, at the age of thirty-seven hid his face in his hands. How tired he was! How discouraged! For eleven years he had dug, hoed, and planted on the family farm at Corinaldo, a town not far from the Italian seaport of Ancona. It was becoming increasingly difficult to support a wife and four growing children on such a mere scrap of land. He made up his mind to move west. To a larger place where they may be able to share the rent of a good farm with another family.
During the next three years, the parents often marveled at Maria’s extraordinary trust in God. How wise in her ways was this little girl. “Yes, Maria was right,” Luigi told his wife one day. “God is looking after us here at Colle Gianturco. A man named Giovanni Serenelli told the Gorettis of a much larger farm to rent at Ferriere di Conca. For several weeks the Gorettis begged God to make known His Will in their regard and they urged Giovanni Serenelli and his seventeen-year-old son Alessandro to do the same. In 1899, their prayers were answered and both families moved to Ferriere di Conca.
Maria was nicknamed Marietta, and at the age of twelve was already a very pretty young lady. She helped her mother on the farm, in the house, and with the care of the other children after the passing of her father, Luigi. Never did she complain because they were so poor. In fact, she cheered up her poor mother and was a great comfort to her. She went to Mass regularly even though it meant a two-hour walk, and she went as often as she could to confession and Holy Communion.
Marietta was also very modest and careful to guard her purity. When a young man named Alessandro tried a few times to make her sin, she absolutely refused and she did her best to avoid him from that time on. Then one summer day, she was alone in the cottage mending clothes, and Alessandro came again to try to make her sin. This time, he dragged the poor girl into a room and when she tried to scream, he stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth. Yet she managed to keep saying, “No, no! It is a mortal sin. God doesn’t want it. If you commit it, you will go to hell!” And she struggled as much as she could. Furiously, Alessandro began to strike her with a knife. Again and again he struck her and then he ran away.
Marietta was taken to a hospital, where she died about twenty-four hours later. During her last hours, she forgave her murderer. Her only worry was for her mother. With great joy, she received Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and then went to Heaven.
Alessandro was sent to prison where, for a long time, he did not repent of his horrible crime. Then one night he had a dream or vision of Maria Goretti offering him flowers. From that moment on he was a changed man. When he was freed from prison after many years, the first thing he did was to beg Mary’s mother for forgiveness.
On the day Maria Goretti was declared “Blessed,” her own mother was there in Rome for the great celebration. And when the Pope declared Mary a saint, more people gathered to honor her than had ever come for such a ceremony before. St. Maria Goretti is called a “martyr of holy purity.”
St. Maria Goretti’s remains are inside a glass-sided casket. Inside the casket is a wax statue within which repose her skeletal remains. It was with her right arm the Maria defended her purity and prevented Alessandro from raping her. The arm is contained within a reliquary above the high altar at St. Nicolas in her birth town of Corinaldo as you can see in the following pictures.
If you would like to see if the Relic Tour is scheduled where you live click on this link: St. Maria Goretti’s Relics