She was eleven and a half years old when she died and only forty-eight years after her death. She was canonized a saint in the presence of her mother and her assailant. She is St. Mary Goretti, the 20 th century martyr and one of the youngest saints in the history of Christendom.
Mary was born of poor Italian tenant-farmers on October 16, 1980, the oldest girl of seven children. When she was 10 her father died, a situation which led to even grater poverty. She had no chance to go to school because she has to stay with the younger siblings while their mother worked in the farm.
When she was not helping with housework, she would be praying the rosary. The girl had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Blessed Mother. When working, she would do the most difficult and disagreeable chores. It cost her a struggle to do the best thing and she did it because she knew that she would be pleasing God. Her whole life was centered around God.
One afternoon in July, Mary was mending a shirt on the stairway in plain sight of the threshing floor. Alexander, a neighbor who was 18 years old was driving the oxen around the village while some of Mary’s young brothers and sisters rode in the wagon behind. At around three o’clock, he made an excuse to leave and headed for the house of Mary.
He came up the steps, seized Mary and pulled her into the bedroom. She struggled and cried for help gasping that she would rather be killed than submit to his evil desire. “No, no, God does not want it; you will commit a mortal sin; you will go to hell!” Furiously, Alexander thrust a dagger into the girl time and time again. She crumpled to the floor unconscious.
Mary was taken to the hospital where the doctors stiteched up her wounds. it was all that they could do. Her last moments were marked by the usual simple compassion and good concern for her mother, forgiveness of her murderer and her devout welcoming of Viatcum. Not long after, the little girl was lifeless.
Alexander was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was unrepentant for many years. One night, Mary appeared in his dream, gathering flowers and offering them to him. He changed after that and was released after 27 years. His first act was to be g Mary;s mother for forgiveness.
It was not only martyrdom which made Mary a saint. It was her love of God and obedience to His laws. In her short life, her obedience, charity, humility, meekness, prudence and piety had already been heroic; her purity had been angelic. It was her daily practice to virtues in little ways which had obtained for her the grace to keep her purity unspotted in the hour of greatest trial. Martyrdom was the crown to an already holy life.
Countless graces have been obtained through her and had many miracles have happened through her intercession but is invoked by most for the preservation of purity.
The people of God in Sta. Maria Goretti Parish, Paco, Manila commemorate with gladness the Centennial of their Patroness. And, they share to their country-men the God-given graces of reconciliation, hope and joy that are anchored on justice, truth, love, peace, and faith.