St. Maria Goretti, Virgin: Maria Goretti, born in 1890 at Corinaldo, a small village in Italy, was a happy and obedient child. When she was nine years old, her father died. Maria prayed each day for the strength to follow Jesus and avoid serious sin. Her devotion was simple and in keeping with her age, but the courage and fidelity in walking long distances to the nearest town to learn her Catechism indicated her solid character.
The greatest test of her life was swift and sudden but not unannounced for two other occasions a young man of eighteen named Alexander tried to force Maria to sin. She refused, saying, “I would rather die than sin.”
In a rage, Alexander stabbed Maria fourteen times with a long knife. Twelve year old Maria lived only twenty-four hours; but before dying she forgave Alexander and prayed for his conversion and with great peace told those surrounding her bed, “It is Jesus I am going to see.”
Eight years later Maria appeared to Alexander in prison, offering him flowers. Alexander called for a priest, repented his sins, and surrendered his life to Jesus. After his release, Alexander asked forgiveness from Maria’s mother and family, and spent his life serving God. He was the chief witness for her beatification, which took place April, 27, 1947. Her mother, Assunta Goretti, was present at the beatification as well as the canonization which took place three years later. (Adapted from Fr. Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources)