Born into poverty, her father moved the family when Maria was just six years old, in hopes of escaping the poverty area. Just three years later, when Maria was nine, her father died tragically. It fell to her at that time to raise her five siblings while her mother worked the fields. A neighbor, Alessandro developed impure liking for Maria and forced himself upon Maria to rape her. Though she prevented him from violating her, Alessandro stabbed her numerous times. Maria died the next day Her last words were, “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in heaven forever.” During his prison sentence Maria appeared to Alessandro and forgave him. That act of mercy and forgiveness filled Alessandro with contrition for his crime. It was also a turning point for him where grace entered his heart. From that point on, he lived a beautiful and converted life of holiness, eventually becoming a Franciscan lay brother."
St. Maria Goretti
- of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape
Retablo Wall, Aspe