On July 6, the Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, a 12-year-old girl who was murdered defending her virginity.
Newsdesk (06/07/2021 13:10, Gaudium Press) God often allows children to give lessons to adults. The story of St. Maria Goretti is a perfect example.
In our present days it is very difficult to speak of chastity, purity, or virginity, because, unfortunately, contemporary man has chosen to forget these values in order to satisfy, uncontrolled, his baser instincts.
When speaking of St. Maria Goretti, for example, we often hear proclaimed from the pulpit the beauty of Christian resignation of this young girl who died forgiving her adversaries; but almost nothing is said of the heroism of the girl who refused to sully her virginity when faced with the demands of the flesh.
To forgive one’s enemies is a precept of Our Lord, of course. But in our relativistic and indifferent society, filled with unhappy customs, we must speak of examples of purity and chastity – commandments of God’s Law! – which are so often overlooked or hidden.
History of Saint Maria Goretti
The astonishing life of this Italian Saint has already been made into a movie. She was born in 1890, in Corinaldo, in the province of Ancona, near the Adriatic Sea.
The social upheavals of the late 19th century left the Italian peninsula in a state of misery, particularly regarding the countryside, and the Goretti family was forced to migrate to Ferriere di Conca, in search of better conditions. Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini had seven children: the second was Maria, known as Marietta in her home.
God crowned little Maria with suffering from an early age, for when she was very young she lost her father to malaria. The young Saint did not, however, allow herself to be shaken in any way. Seeking comfort in the Faith, she took on the care of her younger siblings while their mother worked in the fields.
Maria was not idle, vain, or capricious, and while carrying out the household duties, she found time to catechize the children and to pray. This rhythm of life was fundamental in preparing her soul for the fight of her life: to maintain her virginity.
Beautiful of body and soul, Maria Goretti’s attractiveness caught the eyes of a boy named Alessandro Serenelli. On three different occasions, the young man tried to tempt the girl, and she steadfastly refused his offers. On the fourth, however, angered and humiliated by the girl’s virtuous refusals, Serenelli turned to brute force; Maria yet refused to yield to him, and Alessandro took out a knife and stabbed her.
Help soon came to Maria’s aid, but she died in hospital after a failed surgical attempt, a surgery without even an anesthetic to ease the pain. Agonizing, dying…she forgave her murderer.
Maria Goretti’s Memory
The fame of the martyr of purity spread throughout Italy, Europe, and the world, sown not by the wind but by the admiration of millions and millions. It is true that the 20th century was the time of great moral degradation, but it is also true that deep in his conscience man knows that the beauties of a chaste soul are irresistible.
Such was the fame of Marietta Goretti, that on the occasion of her canonization, on 24 June 1950, nearly half a million faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square. An unprecedented fact in history: the mother of the Saint was present at this solemn event! On that memorable day, her brothers and sisters also attended the canonization of their sister, and…none other than her murderer, who had converted and publicly asked for forgiveness!
The conversion of Alessandro Serenelli was a miracle! Another miracle attributed to Maria Goretti -often referred to as the ‘Saint Agnes of the 20th Century’ – involved one of her brothers, Mariano Goretti. As a soldier in the First World War, Mariano was ordered to abandon his trench and advance against the enemy. However, at that very moment, his sister appeared to him, telling him not to leave the shelter, and he was, in fact, the only survivor of his company. Even more astonishing was the fact that Mariano was not tried by any military tribunal…
Why practice chastity?
Or, as we hear today, why practice virginity?
In the eyes of almost the whole of humanity, the story of Maria Goretti, although very beautiful, seems impossible to imitate today. Indeed, such is the power of disordered passions, such are the situations of moral perdition, such is the lack of support, that no one feels the strength to practice purity.
But why practice virginity? Why desire the ‘impossible’?
Regarding the first question: virginity is not a path for everyone, but chastity and purity are. The Sixth and Ninth Commandments are binding for all: no one is exempt from this law, not even married people. That is why, according to Catholic Doctrine, the conjugal act, for example, can only be practiced within marriage.
Now, it is necessary to make clear that God is not an authoritarian judge like many who sit on actual benches, gavel in hand. No. He legislates according to the Truth, which He is, and not according to whim.
Therefore, the practice of chastity is a good in itself; this being so, the man or woman who wants to be pure – even within marriage – enjoys indescribable happiness of the soul.
Freud said that the repression of instincts causes traumas. This is false. Nothing on this earth can replace the real and deep joy of the person who chooses to be chaste. It is a sense of refreshment, comfort, and peace that no worldly pleasure can give.
But is practicing purity an attainable good? Yes. God’s grace can accomplish anything. Whoever truly desires to be pure, begin by asking Our Lord, through Our Lady: this prayer WILL be answered! God does not ask of us the impossible.
A simple piece of advice: there is no such thing as being partly pure. Simply put, whoever really wants to be chaste must be sincere with himself, and seek complete purity, without ‘small concessions’.
A lesson in life
Saint Maria Goretti loved and obtained the virtue of chastity. She has left us the example that chastity is not impossible and continues to teach us that, even if stabbed by the bitterness of life, on the lips of the chaste person there will always be a smile of true joy.
The post, Saint Maria Goretti: Chastity is Not Impossible, appeared first on Gaudium Press.
Spirituality, Martyr defended purity, Memory of St. Maria Goretti, St. Maria Goretti, Gaudium Press
Compiled by Sandra Chisholm