St. Maria Goretti's Biography

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Shortly after this greatest of days, Maria was on her way to the well to draw water. While waiting her turn she overheard some girls using very unbecoming language with some boys. What grieved her the most was that the girls had been in her First Communion class. When she repeated the conversation to her mother that such words must go in one ear and out the other, that repeating such conversation would make her just as guilty, and to never take part in them. Maria responded, "Mama, I would rather die." She kept away from bad companions, especially certain little girls of a nearby family who didn't act properly. When she went to draw water from the fountain she would hurry in order to avoid talking to those children who were in the habit of talking vulgarly. It was obvious that Marietta had a sincere commitment to purity.

Although only eleven years old Maria Goretti was mature for her age. She was about 5 feet 4 inches, with light chestnut colored hair and eyes. Her complexion was somewhat dark with the tanned skin of farming people. She never let her beautiful loose hair become an occasion of vanity, for she nearly always hid it beneath a simple black shawl, without frills or ornaments. She was attractive in appearance and manners, efficient, intelligent, serious, but lively, and her modest bearing was more that of a woman than a child. She dressed simply and decently even in summer, and contented herself with any dress made by her mother or given by a neighbor. She possessed a chaste beauty that inspired respect.

Maria has aptly been called the "Lily of the Marshes." This pure holy girl was growing up in the company of a sordid, impure character, Alessandro Serenelli. Just as the land of Pontine Marshes itself was not bad - only that it allowed the waters to stagnate - so, too, Alessandro, though not by nature bad, allowed his mind and heart to stagnate in the mire of impurity.

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