Europe July Martyrs Saints Virgins

Saint Maria Goretti

Feast Day: July 6

How To Make Tiramisu

Today we are feasting with… Saint Maria Goretti.

To celebrate this feast day, we are making Tiramisu, a popular Italian dessert made with espresso soaked lady fingers, creamy mascarpone, whipped cream, and cocoa.

The Life of Maria Goretti

Maria Goretti was born a poor peasant child in Italy on October 16, 1890, the third of six children. When she was nine, her father died of malaria. Her family’s situation grew even worse. Maria’s mother dutifully took her husband’s place in the fields, while little Maria took her mother’s role in caring for her siblings. The family was able to survive by working the fields of a Count, a job they shared with a man named Giovanni Serenelli and his son Alessandro. Mr. Serenelli kept most of the profits from the farming, leaving the Goretti family quite poor and frequently hungry.

Through all the difficulties, Maria did her best. When neighbors or kindly merchants would give Maria a treat, she would take it home to share with her brothers and sisters. Cheerful and intelligent, Maria was also beautiful, with chestnut hair complementing her delicate features.

In June of 1902, 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli began ordering 11-year-old Maria to perform various difficult chores, none of which could be completed to his satisfaction, and she was often reduced to tears. Alessandro also began making advances on Maria. She rebuffed them all, but, unfortunately, said nothing to her mother, for fear of causing trouble.

After many months of this, knowing she would be alone, he returned to the house and threatened to stab her with an awl if she did not do what he said. She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning him that he would go to Hell. She fought desperately and kept screaming, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” He first choked her, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. She tried to reach the door, but he stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away. Maria died the next day in the midst of horrendous infection brought on by her lacerations. Her last words were, “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in heaven forever.”

An Act of Forgiveness

Alessandro was captured shortly after the attack. He was sentenced to 30 years. Alessandro remained unrepentant for his actions until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him lilies, which immediately burned in his hands. When he woke, he was a changed man. He repented his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released 27-years-later, he went directly to Maria’s mother and begged her forgiveness, which she gave, saying, “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?”

Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in a ceremony at Saint Peter’s Basilica on April 27, 1947. Three years later, on June 24, 1950, she was canonized in a ceremony attended by a quarter million people, including her mother, the first mother ever to see her child canonized. 

Saint Maria Goretti is patron of youth, young women, purity, and victims of abuse or rape.

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.