On the night of Maria's death, Assunta Goretti went back to Fierriere and to her children at the Cimarelli's house where she remained until they moved permanently back to Corinaldo. To witness her daughter's glorification, she spent time in Rome, an honored guest of the Vatican. This valiant woman died at Corinaldo on October 8, 1954.
Alessandro Serenelli's story remains to be finished. We continue his own account:
The Regina Coeli prison left much to be desired. I suffered a lot but I was too proud to give in. Oh yes! I felt remorse for what I had done right from the start, but pride made me drop the mask of a hardened criminal over my face. . .
My path was a bitter one indeed. Early in 1903 I was passed to Noto in Sicily and there received my convict's stripes and became Number 3142. Solitary confinement lasted 3 years. I thought it would kill me. . . A man's thoughts under such circumstances are not good. . . Though Maria's dying words rang in my ears, "May God forgive him. I want him with me in Paradise," I drowned the voice of conscience with ribald song.
Then Maria appeared to me in a dream, gathering lilies and handing them to me. That broke me up badly, but my pride was still too strong. Many years were to pass before I fell to my knees and went to confession. . .
In 1929, I regained my liberty. . . I took refuge with the good (Capuchin) Fathers in the early thirties and have been here ever since. I say my Rosary with the Community every night and hear Mass every day. Some time ago, I joined the tertiaries. . .
The happiest day of my life since my fall was when I testified for Maria's Beatification. I know she is praying for me in Heaven. I'm an old man now and haven't much time to live, but God will be merciful to me, I know He will. Maria will see to that. . . if there are martyrs in Heaven, she is the first among them. . . with all that I have done to her!
Alessandro Serenelli died on May 6, 1969, calling the name, "Maria!" He had left a signed statement to youth:
"I ask pardon of the entire world for the crime I committed against the martyr Maria Goretti and against purity. I urge all of you to avoid immoral shows and all the dangerous occasions that can lead you to sin."
Two people who made their marks in history now stand before us; one the martyr, the other the martyr-maker, the saint and the penitent sinner. Both had suffered the loss of a parent at a young age. Both lived in the same environment, in fact under the same roof, yet how different the outcome of their lives! One gave completely of herself for love of God, the other demanded completely for himself in contempt of God. One died forgiving her assassin and other died calling on his victim in Heaven.
The mother of Maria Goretti is responsible for much of the sanctity of this young martyr. Assunta was a "valiant woman" who saw that those of her household were "clothed with double garments." She cared for the spiritual as well as the temporal well-being of her children.
(We are fortunate to have Assunta's own words for much of her daughter's biography, due to the interrogations before Maria's Beatification. For this article they were gleaned from two primary sources: The Martyr of le Ferriere by Father Maurus of Mary Immaculate, C.P., and Saint Maria Goretti by Her Mother, compiled by Rev. D. Luigi Novarese.)<< Previous chapter