St. Maria Goretti's Biography

Yes, I pardon Him

The parish priest, Father Signori, brought Holy Viaticum to Marietta in the morning and the priest asked her explicitly if she pardoned Alessandro out of love for Jesus. Without a moment's hesitation, Marietta replied, "Yes, so do I pardon him for love of Jesus, and I wish him to join me in Paradise." That these words were spoken without any hesitation was proved by the fact that to all those who later asked her about pardoning Alessandro, she promptly and firmly replied, "May God forgive him as I have already forgiven him!"

Her face lit up with exquisite joy when she received Our Lord for the last time. She had so longed to receive Holy Communion that day and her wish had become a reality, but under what conditions!

Before her death her mother had to question her once more about Alessandro, by order of the chief of police. When asked whether Alessandro had tempted her before, she answered that he had in fact done so twice before. Her mother inquired why she did not tell her so that she could have prevented such a terrible death, and Marietta said it was because she was too ashamed. "Besides, Alessandro swore that he would kill me if I told anyone about it; he has killed me just the same." When asked why she did not scream while he was beating her, she replied that as long as she screamed, he continued to beat her, but when she couldn't scream anymore he ceased his assault.

Assunta, knowing that there was little time remaining to the dying girl, begged her, "Mariettina pray for us. . . forgive everyone. . . prepare yourself for your Creator." Then her mother kissed her and Mariettina kissed her in return. The crucifix was placed on her lips, then the medal of Our Lady of the Children of Mary was given to her to kiss, which she succeeded in gripping tightly and holding to her lips. Once more she called her dead father; then she became delirious and relived the scene of her martyrdom. Again were heard the words she had uttered in her struggle, "What are you doing, Alessandro? Don't touch me or you'll go to Hell!" Just before she breathed her last, in a voice which was a little excited, she called, "Teresa!" although her mother was near her. It was obvious that Maria did not recognize her. One of the nurses approached her and, taking her hand, said to her, "Teresa isn't here." At that moment she calmly breathed her last. It was 3 o'clock on the 6th of July, 1902.

Death was caused by septic peritonitis, due to the intestinal wounds, which measured 4 1/2 inches long obliquely from right to left, together with hemorrhage caused by the numerous injuries from the struggle.

When Marietta died Assunta was made to leave and gazed upon her child for the last time. As the body lay in the white bed, her features pale from loss of blood, her long hair loose on the pillow, Assunta reflected that it reminded her of Saint Philomena. "One breathed the air of purity in that room," she wrote in her account. Assunta was not able to stay even for the funeral, for she had other children at home to care for.

Some readers may ask, while considering the mother's agony in seeing her daughter butchered, "Is this really what you call success?" Assunta Goretti thought it was. She knew her daughter had been true to her teachings and that she had the true Fear of the Lord which only dreads to offend Him. And the Catholic Church thought that her life was a success too, for Maria Goretti was beatified only 47 years after her death, on April 27, 1947.

Within a few days after her beatification two instantaneous cures happened in Rome through her intercession, showing that Almighty God thought Maria a success. After investigation and approval, Maria's final glorification took place on June 24, 1950, when she canonized by Pope Pius XII, before a crowd of half a million people from all over the world - and her mother. Assunta exclaimed, "I had the joy of accompanying my daughter from the cradle to the altar!"

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