Forgiveness of St. Maria & Assunta Goretti

St. Maria Goretti was born in Italy in the year 1890 into a poor family near Nettuno, 20 miles outside of Rome. Alessandro was trying to behave with her indecently. She repeatedly refused. The frustrated Alessandro stabbed her 14 times on July 5, 1902. She had repeatedly warned Alessandro that he was risking eternal damnation. The wounds he inflicted upon her caused her to suffer an agonizing death. As she lay dying, when the parish priest of Nettuno brought her Holy Viaticum and asked whether she forgave Alessandro, she replied, "Yes, I forgive him and want him to be in Paradise with me some day."

After 27 years of imprisonment, Alessandro was released. He was spared 3 years of confinement due to being a model prisoner. After various wanderings as a farm laborer, he spent the rest of his life living in a Capuchin monastery at Macerata. There the Capuchins called him "brother." In the chapel of the monastery Alessandro was able to attend daily Mass and to find peace and solitude.

One day, he visited Assunta Goretti, (mother of Maria Goretti) whom he had last seen 31 years before at his trial. He begged Assunta's forgiveness. She placed her hands on his head, caressed his face and gently said, "Alessandro, Marietta forgave you, Christ has forgiven you, and why should I not also forgive. I forgive you, of course, my son! Why have I not seen you sooner? Your evil days are past, and to me, you are a long-suffering son."

The next morning Assunta Goretti, with head held high and tears falling, took Alessandro by the hand as a mother takes a son, and led him to Mass. From that time he was welcomed into the profoundly Christian family of the Gorettis as "Uncle Alessandro." Alessandro would testify at length at the canonical process for the beatification of Maria Goretti - the only witness who could detail what had actually happened in the brutal murder. He died at the age of 89 after a long life of prayer and penance in expiation of his crime, always invoking the intercession of St. Maria Goretti as his "protector."

It was a remarkable scene on June 24, 1950 at the canonization of St. Maria Goretti in the open Piazza of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Never before had it happened that the mother of the saint was also present at the ceremony of canonization.


In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse



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