ST. MARIA GORETTI: Patroness of Catholic Youth
1890 – 1902
In spite of the fact that it was a two-hour walk to get to church the Goretti family never missed Mass. So Maria grew up with these words of their very holy parish priest ringing in her ears: “Purity at all cost. Keep your soul pure! It is better to die a thousand times than to commit one mortal sin.” She knew that the Blessed Trinity would no longer live in a soul blackened by deadly sin. So to keep the gift of holy purity, Maria would pray three Hail Mary’s to Our Lady every night and frequently go to confession and take Holy Communion.
When Pope Pius XII proclaimed in 1950 Maria Goretti a saint, it was certainly a unique event in the history of the Church that attracted such a crowd of half a million (some say only 250,000). The ceremony was for the first time in history held in the open square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. The story of Maria’s forgiving words became world famous.
Pope Pius Xii fittingly addressed Maria during her canonization by saying, “We greet you, a beautiful and lovable saint, martyr on earth, angel in heaven. . .”
Today the family’s old farmhouse has been turned into a shrine with an iron grill fence around the spot where Maria was discovered bleeding to death. The old church in Nettuna is now new with Maria’s tomb in it.
Inasmuch as Maria was killed in defense of a Christian virtue she is considered as much as a martyr as if she had died for the Christian faith. Cardinal Salottie said,