What connection is there between St. Maria Goretti and the Passionist Congregation?
During the life of Maria Goretti the bond between her and the Passionists was forged. Small as it was, it was significant to Maria. She received her final instructions for her First Communion from a Passionist. Father Jerome of St. Michael the Archangel was given the task of preparing a group of youngsters for their Holy Communion. In this group was a young girl of twelve, Maria Goretti. She received preliminary instructions unde the direction of the pastor, Archpriest Temistocle Signori of Nettuno. However, the final work of preparation was entrusted to Father Jerome.
After the preparation itself Father Jerome himself gave Maria her First Communion. Both the date and the place of this event are uncertain. The repeated testimony of Maria’s mother leads us to prefer the feast of Corpus Christi, 29th May 1902, as the most likely date. As regards the place it seems most probably that it was at Conca, although at least one writer states it was in the Passionist Church at Nettuno. Of this we cannot be certain.
After the death of Maria her body was buried in the ordinary cemetery at Nettuno. The people of the district, however, were not satisfied with such a common tomb. They wanted to have her buried in the Church of the Passionists, along the sea coast, at Nettuno. This was not possible at once however. Nevertheless, a monument to Maria Goretti was erected in the Church.
During the war when the stage of the battle reached Nettuno, it was thought best to bring the body of Maria Goretti to Rome for safekeeping. There it remained until her beatification on 27th April 1947. On the feast of the Ascension in 1947 the body of Maria Goretti was returned to the Passionist Chuch at Nettuno. There it remains today, a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people.
The fact that the Passionists at Nettuno have the body of Saint Maria Goretti in their charge has become another bond with the Passionist Congregation.
Another link with the Passionists is the fact the the postulator of her cause for Beatification was Passionist Father Mauro.
The progress of her cause was rapid. On 1st June 1938 it was officially introduced at Rome. Nothwithstanding the war, things moved rapidly. On 25th March 1945 the decree of Martyrdom was issued. This decree eliminated much of the usual juridical processes, so the way was open to the Beatification of Maria.
The Beatification of Maria Goretti was followed by a grand triduum at the Basilica of Ss. John and Paul, the Basilica attached to the Generalate of the Passionists. Over three hundred thousand people visited the Basilica the days following the Beatification Ceremony.
Almost at once the cause for Canonisation was introduced in Rome in July 1947. Passionist Father Mauro continued to serve as Postulator of the Cause for Maria Goretti.
On 25th June 1950 Maria Goretti was canonised a saint.
source of innocence and lover of chastity,
you gave St. Maria Goretti the privilege
of offering her life in witness to Christ.
As you gave her the crown of martyrdom,
let her prayers
keep us faithful to your teaching.
We ask this
through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen