Born October 16, 1890(1890-10-16)Corinaldo, Province of Ancona, Marche, Kingdom of Italy
Died July 6, 1902(1902-07-06) (aged 11)Nettuno, Province of Rome, Lazio, Kingdom of Italy
Beatified April 27, 1947, Rome by Pope Pius XII
Canonized June 24, 1950, Rome by Pope Pius XII
"By the loving providence of God, we have assisted this evening at the supreme exaltation of a humble daughter of the people, in a ceremony whose solemnity and dignity are unique in the history of the Church.
For tonight's canonization has been held in this vast and inviting place of mystery, made for the occasion into a sacred temple whose vault is the open heaven that proclaims the glories of Almighty God—a choice for which you first expressed the desire before We had decided to make the disposition.
The concourse of the faithful coming here for the occasion, exceeds anything that has ever been witnessed at any other occasion. You have been lured here, we might almost say, by the entrancing beauty and intoxicating fragrance of this lily mantled with crimson whom we, only a moment ago, had the intense pleasure of inscribing in the roll of the saints; the sweet little martyr of purity, Maria Goretti."
Goretti was born Maria Teresa Goretti on October 16, 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Province of
Ancona, then in the Kingdom of Italy, to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. She was the
third out of six children. Her sisters were named Teresa and Ersilia; her brothers were
Angelo, Sandrino, and Mariano.
By the time she was six, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up
their farm, move, and work for other farmers. Soon, Maria's father Luigi became very sick
with malaria, and died when Maria was just nine. While her brothers, mother, and sister
worked in the fields, Maria would cook, sew, watch her infant sister, and keep the house
clean. It was a hard life, but the family was very close. They shared a deep love for God
and the faith. She and her family moved to Le Ferriere, near modern Latina and Nettuno in
Lazio, where they lived in a building, "La Cascina Antica," they shared with another family
which included Giovanni Serenelli and his son, Alessandro
On July 5, 1902, finding eleven-year-old Maria alone sewing, Alessandro Serenelli came in
and threatened her with death if she did not do as he said; he was intending to rape her.
She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and
warning Alessandro that he would go to Hell.
She desperately fought to stop Alessandro, a 19-year-old farmhand, from abusing her. She
kept screaming, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" Alessandro first choked Maria, but
when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The
injured Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stopped her by stabbing her three
more times before running away
Maria's little sister Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Serenelli's
father and Maria's mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria
and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia,
but her injuries were beyond the doctors' help. Halfway through the surgery, Maria woke up.
She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist of the hospital in which she died said to
her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." She looked to the old man: "Well, who knows, which of
us is going to be there first?" "You, Maria," he replied. "Then I will gladly think of you,"
On July 5 in 1902, exactly a hundred years ago, at 3 p.m. whilst [Maria's mother] Assunta
and the other children were at the threshing floor, Serenelli who persistently sought sexual
favours from the 12-year-old girl approached her. She was taking care of her infant sister
in the farm house. Allesandro threatened her with a 10 inch dagger, and when Maria refused,
as she had always done, he stabbed her 14 times.
The wounds penetrated the throat, with lesions of the pericardium, the heart, the lungs and
the diaphragm. Surgeons at Orsenigo were surprised that the girl was still alive. In a dying
deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, Maria told her mother of Serenelli's
sexual harassment, and two previous attempts made to rape her. She was afraid to reveal this
earlier since she was threatened with death.
The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her
murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, Maria died of her
injuries, while looking at a very beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother.
As the bells throughout the city were proclaiming the vespers hour, Jesus came to gather
sweet Maria into His eternal protection, her reward for strength and virtue beyond her
Assunta Goretti, Maria's mother, must have had many thoughts and mixed emotions as she
listened to His Holiness, Pope Pius XII deliver this homily. More than 250,000 people had
gathered in the piazza, St. Peter's Square on the evening, June 24, 1950 to participate in
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to pray, and to honor Assunta’s canonized daughter. Any
mother would be transported back in time, the early days of marriage, young children,
family, familiar surroundings...