Maria Goretti

Saint Maria Goretti (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr of the Catholic Church, and one of the youngest canonized saints.[1] She was born to a farming family. Her father died when she was nine, and they had to share a house with another family, the Serenellis. Maria took over household duties while her mother, brothers, and sister worked in the fields.

One afternoon, Alessandro, the Serenellis' twenty-year-old son, made sexual advances to her. When she refused to submit to him, he stabbed her fourteen times. She was taken to the hospital but she died forgiving him. He was arrested, convicted, and jailed. During imprisonment he repented. After 27 years he was released from prison, and visited her mother to beg forgiveness, which she granted. He later became a lay brother in a monastery, dying peacefully in 1970. She was beatified in 1947, and canonized in 1950. She is especially venerated in the Congregation of the Passion (Passionists).

Saint Maria Goretti
Maria Goretti
Virgin and Martyr
BornOctober 16, 1890
Corinaldo, Province of Ancona, Marche, Kingdom of Italy
DiedJuly 6, 1902 (aged 11)
Nettuno, Province of Rome, Lazio, Kingdom of Italy
Venerated inCatholic Church
BeatifiedApril 27, 1947[1], Rome by Pope Pius XII
CanonizedJune 24, 1950, Rome by Pope Pius XII
Major shrineNettuno, Province of Rome, Lazio, Italy
FeastJuly 6 (General Roman Calendar & Passionist Calendar)
AttributesFourteen lilies; farmer's clothing; (occasionally) a knife
PatronageVictims of rape, Crime victims, teenage girls, modern youth, Children of Mary
Cascina Antica
La Cascina Antica (right), the Goretti home


Early life

Maria Teresa Goretti[2]:12 was born on October 16, 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Province of Ancona, then in the Kingdom of Italy, to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini, the third of seven children: Antonio (who died in infancy), Angelo, Maria, Mariano (Marino), Alessandro (Sandrino), Ersilia, and Teresa.[3][4]:1[5]:48,59[6][7]

By the time Maria was five, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm, move, and work for other farmers. In 1896, they moved to Colle Gianturco, near Paliano and Frosinone, about fifty miles outside Rome; and then in 1899 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.[4]:1[7][2]:20[8][9] Soon, her father became very sick with malaria, and died when she was just nine.[2]:21 While her mother and siblings worked in the fields, she would cook, sew, watch Teresa, and keep the house clean. It was a hard life, but they were very close.

Maria's Death

Photograph of Saint Maria Goretti, 1902
The only known photograph of Maria Goretti, dated to early 1902

On July 5, 1902, eleven-year-old Maria was sitting on the outside steps of her home, sewing one of Alessandro's shirts and watching Teresa, while Alessandro was threshing beans in the barnyard.[5]:87–89 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; he was intending to rape her. 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.[2]:46 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.[5]:90,101 She tried to reach the door, but he stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.[2]:44

Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Assunta and Giovanni came to check on her, they found Maria on the floor bleeding 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, she woke up. The pharmacist said to her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." She looked at him and said, "Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first?" "You, Maria," he replied. "Then I will gladly think of you," she said. She also expressed concern for her mother's welfare.[2]:54 The following day, 24 hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for Alessandro and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, she died of her injuries.[5]:97,105

Journalist Noel Crusz provided a more detailed account:

On July 5 in 1902, at 3 pm 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 [sic] girl approached her. She was taking care of her infant sister in the farmhouse. Allesandro [sic] threatened her with a 10-inch awl, and when she refused, as she had always done, he stabbed her 14 times.
The wounds penetrated her throat, with lesions of the pericardium, heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Surgeons at Orsenigo were surprised that she was still alive. In a dying deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, she 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.[7]

A third account of the assault was presented by Italian historian Giordano Bruno Guerri in 1985. He asserted that, while in prison, Alessandro stated that he did not complete the assault and Maria died a virgin. Guerri identifies the weapon as an awl rather than a dagger.[7]

Serenelli's imprisonment

Alessandro Serenelli was captured shortly after the attack: the police taking him to prison overtook the ambulance carrying Maria to the hospital.[4]:54 Originally, he was going to be sentenced to life, but since he was a minor at that time it was commuted to 30 years; judges even considered he was not as mature as he was expected to be for a 20-year-old, and that he grew up in a poor, neglectful family, with several brothers and relatives suffering from madness and an alcoholic father.[5]:36,60,64 It has also been suggested that it was due to her mother's plea for mercy that he was not sentenced to death.[10] He insisted he had attempted to rape her several times and decided to kill her because of her refusal and desperate crying. He remained unrepentant and uncommunicative from the world for three years, until a local bishop, Monsignor Giovanni Blandini, visited him in jail. He wrote a thank you note to the Bishop asking for his prayers and telling him about a dream, "in which Maria gave him lilies, which burned immediately in his hands."[2]:87

After his release, Alessandro visited Assunta and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side.[2]:88 He reportedly prayed to her every day and referred to her as "my little saint."[2]:88–91 He attended her canonization in 1950.

Alessandro later became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until he died peacefully in 1970 at age 87.[11]

Beatification and canonization

Visé Maria Goretti
A statue of Maria in peasant garb holding lilies and a knife
Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti in St. Joseph Cathedral (Columbus, Ohio)
Maria's major relics on display at St. Joseph Cathedral (Columbus, Ohio)

Maria was beatified on April 27, 1947. In attendance at the ceremony were both Assunta and Pope Pius XII. On the evening of the ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica, the Pope walked over to and greeted Assunta. She later reported, "When I saw the Pope coming, I prayed, 'Madonna, please help me', and I felt faint. He put his hand on my head and said, "Blessed mother, happy mother, mother of a Blessed!" Afterwards, both could be seen with eyes wet with tears.[2]:67

Three years later, on June 24, 1950, Pius XII canonized Maria as a saint, the "Saint Agnes of the 20th century."[1] Assunta was again present at the ceremony, along with her four remaining sons and daughters. Alessandro was also present.[12][13][14]

Owing to the huge crowd present, the ceremonies associated with the canonization were held outside Saint Peter's Basilica, in the Piazza San Pietro. Pius XII spoke, not as before in Latin, but in Italian. "We order and declare, that the blessed Maria Goretti can be venerated as a Saint and we introduce her into the Canon of Saints". Some 500,000 people, among them a majority of youth, had come from around the world. Pius asked them: "Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?" A resounding "yes" was the answer.[2]:71

Maria's three brothers would claim that she intervened miraculously in their lives. Angelo heard her voice telling him to emigrate to America. Alessandro was reportedly miraculously given a sum of money to finance his own emigration to join Angelo. Sandrino died in the United States in 1917, and Angelo died in Italy when he returned there in 1964. Mariano said he heard her voice telling him to stay in his trench when the rest of his unit charged the Germans in World War I. He, the only survivor of that charge, lived until 1975 and had a large family.[6]

Maria's remains are kept in the crypt of the Basilica of Nostra Signora delle Grazie e Santa Maria Goretti in Nettuno, south of Rome. It is often incorrectly reported that her body remained incorrupt after her death. This is because her skeletal remains are contained in a wax statue lying on its back inside a glass casket and the statue has been mistaken for her body.[15][16]

Feast day

Maria's feast day, celebrated on July 6, was inserted in the General Roman Calendar when it was revised in 1969. She is the patron saint of chastity, rape victims, girls, youth, teenage girls, poverty, purity and forgiveness.[17]

In art

Maria is represented in art as a wavy-haired young girl in farmer clothes or a white dress, with a bouquet of lilies in her hands, and she is sometimes counted among the ranks of the Passionist order since her spiritual formation was guided by the Passionists. Both lilies and white garments are traditional icons of virginity in Catholic iconography.

In media

St. Maria Goretti CS
A Catholic elementary school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is named in her honor. It is a large school with over 1000 pupils.

Heaven over the Marshes (Cielo sulla palude) is another Italian film based on her life, filmed in 1949 and directed by Augusto Genina. Ines Orsini plays her and Mauro Matteuci plays Alessandro. It was awarded a prize at the 10th International Exhibition of Cinema Art at Venice in 1949, as the one which contributed most to the spiritual and moral betterment of mankind.[5]:118

Marcel Delannoy wrote a radiophonic opera, Maria Goretti, in 1953.

In 2003, Maria Goretti, a RAI Italian TV movie directed by Giulio Base, starring Martina Pinto as Maria, was acclaimed by critics.[18]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, (Hugo Hoever,, ed.), New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., (1955) p. 259-60
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ruef, Vinzenz (1992). Die Wahre Geschichte von der hl. Maria Goretti. Jestetten: Miriam. ISBN 978-3-87449-101-3.
  3. ^ "The family". Santuario de Corinaldo. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Saint Maria Goretti by Her Mother", compiled by Rev. D. Luigi Novarese, Glasgow: John S. Burns & Sons, (1967)
  5. ^ a b c d e f Poage, Rev. Godfrey (1977). In Garments All Red. Boston: Daughters of St. Paul. ISBN 978-0-89555-615-8.
  6. ^ a b O'Grady, Desmond. Maria Goretti: A Rush to Judgment?, February 25, 1985 in The Age newspaper of Melbourne, Australia. Accessed April 11, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d Crusz, Noel. Maria Goretti – Saint Under Siege, July 7, 2002, The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka. Accessed April 11, 2010.
  8. ^ Sister Mary Germaine. "Saint Maria Goretti: Martyr For Purity," St. Maria's Messenger, 2006. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  9. ^ Città di Paliano. “Un itinerario fuori le mura” (“A route out of the walls”). Archived October 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Raemers, Rev. Wm. "St. Dominic Savio and St. Maria Goretti", Glasgow: John S. Burns & Sons, (1954) p. 60.
  11. ^ "Alessandro Serenelli" (in Italian). Santuario di Santa Maria Goretti in Corinaldo.
  12. ^ St Maria Goretti Biography at
  13. ^ St. Maria Goretti at
  14. ^ St Maria Goretti Archived December 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine at
  15. ^ Joan Carroll Cruz (1977). The Incorruptibles: A Study of the Incorruption of the Bodies of Various Catholic Saints and Beati. TAN Books & Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89555-066-8.
  16. ^ "The Body". Pilgrimage of Mercy. 2015-06-30. Archived from the original on 2019-03-03. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  17. ^ 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal
  18. ^ "Maria Goretti". IMDb. Retrieved August 1, 2014.

External links

Alessandro Serenelli

Alessandro Serenelli (2 June 1882 - 6 May 1970) was an Italian, who in 1902 attempted to seduce an eleven-year-old girl named Maria Goretti. Not succeeding, he attempted to rape her, and failing in that, he stabbed her 14 times, mortally wounding her. While serving 27 years in prison for his crime, he reported seeing a vision of his victim in which she repeated to him how she had forgiven him on her death bed. From this point he was converted and became a model prisoner. Upon his release, he worked as a gardener and porter in a convent of Capuchin friars in the Marches. Goretti was later proclaimed a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Amatori Catania

Amatori Catania Rugby is an Italian rugby union club based in Catania. They are the only professional rugby union team in Sicily. The club was founded in 1963, and play at the Stadio Santa Maria Goretti.

Amatori Catania have thus far not won the Italian championship, but have qualified for European competition, competing in both the 2004–05 and 2005–06 European Challenge Cup seasons, defeating Montpellier and Connacht in the last season.

They currently competing in the Serie A.

Colegio Santa María Goretti

Colegio Santa María Goretti (English: Santa María Goretti School) is a Chilean high school located in Rancagua, Cachapoal Province, Chile.


Corinaldo is a town and comune in the Province of Ancona, within the Marche region of central Italy. It is about 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Assisi. It is home to well-preserved 14th-century walls, and was the birthplace of Saint Maria Goretti; it is also the site of a Halloween festival held every October.

In 2007 it was voted "Italy's prettiest village" by the association I borghi più belli d'Italia.

Heaven over the Marshes

Heaven over the Marshes (Italian: Cielo sulla palude) is a 1949 Italian historical drama film directed by Augusto Genina and starring Rubi D'Alma, Michele Malaspina, Inés Orsini and Domenico Viglione Borghese. The film portrays the life of the saint Maria Goretti. Augusto Genina was awarded the Nastro d'Argento for Best Director for the film. In 2008 the film was selected to enter the list of the 100 Italian films to be saved. The film's sets were designed by Virgilio Marchi.

List of saints canonized by Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) canonized numerous saints, including Pope Pius X and Maria Goretti. He beatified Pope Innocent XI.

Living Foodz

Living Foodz is an international, 24-hour food and lifestyle television channel based in Mumbai, India. It is a part of the Living Entertainment brand of channels, which is owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises. The channel airs shows hosted by chefs and anchors like Rocky Singh, Mayur Sharma, Ranveer Brar, Gautam Mehrishi, Vicky Ratnani, Kunal Kapur, Rakhee Vaswani,Ajay Chopra, Maria Goretti and Pankaj Bhadouria.

Maria Goretti (actress)

Maria Goretti is an Indian-Italian MTV VJ. She has hosted several TV shows including Do It Sweet on the NDTV Good Times channel and I Love Cooking on Living Foodz.

Maria Goretti (disambiguation)

Maria Goretti (1890–1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr of the Catholic Church.

Maria Goretti may also refer to:

Maria Goretti (film), a 2003 Italian television movie based on the life of the saint

Maria Goretti (actress), Indian MTV VJ and actress

Maria Goretti, a 1953 radiophonic opera by Marcel Delannoy

Santa Maria Goretti, Rio Grande do Sul, a neighbourhood in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Maria Goretti (film)

Maria Goretti is a 2003 Italian television movie directed by Giulio Base and starring Martina Pinto in the title role. The film is based on real life events of Catholic virgin-martyr and Saint Maria Goretti.

Mount Royal, Saskatoon

Mount Royal is a neighbourhood on the westside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the Confederation SDA. Having a population of 4.259 residents, the neighbourhood consists of 3 elementary schools and 2 sister secondary schools.


Nettuno is a town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy, 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Rome. A resort city and agricultural center on the Tyrrhenian Sea, it has a population of approximately 50,000.

Its name is perhaps in honour of the Roman god Neptune.

Raghu Romeo

Raghu Romeo is a 2003 Bollywood film directed by Rajat Kapoor, starring Vijay Raaz, Sadiya Siddiqui, Maria Goretti, Manu Rishi and Saurabh Shukla. The film released on 15 August 2003 to critical acclaim but was a big commercial failure. Set in modern-day Mumbai, the film focuses on the life of a waiter working in a dance bar. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.

Saint John Neumann High School (Pennsylvania)

Saint John Neumann High School was an all-male Roman Catholic high school located in the South Philadelphia area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. In 2004 the school, which was a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, merged with Saint Maria Goretti High School to form Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School.

Saint Maria Goretti High School (Pennsylvania)

Saint Maria Goretti High School was an all-female Roman Catholic high school located at 1736 South Tenth Street in the South Philadelphia area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. In 2004 the school, which was a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, merged with Saint John Neumann High School to form Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School.

Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School

Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School (Neumann Goretti for short) is a private Roman Catholic high school located at 1736 South Tenth Street in the South Philadelphia area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Santa Maria Goretti, Rio Grande do Sul

Santa Maria Goretti is a neighbourhood (bairro) in the city of Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil. It was created by Law 2688 from December 25, 1963.

St. Maria Goretti High School

Saint Maria Goretti High School is a private, Roman Catholic day school located in Hagerstown, Maryland. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, within the tri-state areas of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Southern Pennsylvania.

Stadio Santa Maria Goretti

Stadio Santa Maria Goretti is a multi-use stadium in Catania, Italy. It is currently used mostly for american football and rugby union matches and is the home of Amatori Catania team. The stadium holds 10,000 persons and is named after the Catholic saint Maria Goretti.

Virgin Mary
See also
Catholic martyrs in defensum castitatis

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.