6th July Feast of St. Maria Goretti



St. Maria Goretti was killed by Alessandro Serenelli on 5th July 1902.

After 27 years of imprisonment, Alessandro Serenelli was released. He was spared 3 years of confinement due to being a model prisoner. After various wanderings as a farm laborer, he was to spend the rest of his life living in a Capuchin monastery at Macerata. There the good Capuchins called him “brother”. In the chapel of the monastery Alessandro was able to attend daily Mass and to find peace and solitude. He was to visit Assunta Goretti, St. Maria Goretti’s mother, whom he had last seen 31 years before at his trial. Begging Assunta’s forgiveness, she placed her hands on his head, caressed his face and gently said, “Alessandro, Maria 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.” (DiDonato, p. 142)

“The next morning people in the village of Corinaldo witnessed what could only happen among the poor of Christ. Assunta Goretti, Maria Goretti’s mother, with head held high and tears falling, took Alessandro Serenelli by the hand as a mother takes a son, and led him to Mass. At the altar rail side by side, she and he – he who had killed her daughter- raised their open mouths to partake of the flesh and blood of Jesus.” (DiDonato, pages 142-146) From that time he was welcomed in that 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 a 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”.

[The Penitent by Pietro DiDonato, Hawthorne Books, NY, 1962]


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