St Maria Goretti, Virgin & Martyr: Missa “Loquébar de testimóniis”
St. Maria Goretti is unique in that she is the youngest canonized saint in the Church. She died tragically on July 6, 1902, at the age of eleven.
Born into poverty, her father moved the family when Maria was just six years old from the east side of Italy (near Ancona) to the west side (near Nettuno, about 40 miles south of Rome) in hopes of escaping the grinding poverty that was gripping the area.
Just three years later, when Maria was nine, her father died tragically. It fell to her at that time to raise her five siblings while her mother worked the fields to produce the crops with which they would both pay the rent and feed themselves.
This was a terrible time of trial and suffering for the whole family. For Maria it was especially difficult. Aside from having the responsibility of caring for her family, she had to also cook and clean for her two next door neighbors–Giovanni Serenelli and his son, Alessandro–who assisted her mother with the farm tasks.
It was also during this time that Alessandro began to develop an impure liking for Maria. The big 20-year-old would say rude and crude things to her, things that were inappropriate and embarrassing, and that would cause her to run away. However, at a certain point he began to make direct sexual advances towards her, demanding her virginity and threatening her with violence for non-compliance.
Finally, after many months of this, Alessandro forced himself upon Maria in an attempt to rape her. Though she prevented him from violating her, Alessandro brutally stabbed her numerous times. Maria died the next day in the midst of horrendous infection brought on by her lacerations. Her last words were, “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in heaven forever.”
During his prison sentence Maria appeared to Alessandro and forgave him. That act of mercy and forgiveness—that act of love—filled Alessandro with contrition for his crime. It was also a turning point for him where grace entered his heart. From that point on, he lived a beautiful and converted life of holiness, eventually becoming a Franciscan lay brother.
Before his death Alessandro Serenelli wrote a beautiful open letter to the world. You can read it here: http://mariagoretti.org/alessandrobio.htm
Maria is known as a wonder-worker. She has intervened with the Lord to produce countless miracles. Of all the saints (over 160) whose relics Fr. Carlos Martins, Director of Treasures of the Church, ministers with, Maria is the one who by far has produced the most miracles.
INTROIT Psalm 18:46-47
I will speak of Your decrees before kings without being ashamed. And I will delight in Your commands, which I love exceedingly. Ps 118:1 Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat I will speak of Your decrees before kings without being ashamed. And I will delight in Your commands, which I love exceedingly.
O God, Who among the other miracles of Your power have bestowed the victory of martyrdom even upon the weaker sex, graciously grant that we who commemorate the anniversary of the death of blessed N., Your Virgin and Martyr, may come to You by the path of her example. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Sir 51:1-8; 5:12
Lesson from the book of Ecclesiasticus. I will give You thanks, O Lord, O King; I will praise You, O God my Saviour! I will make known Your name; for You have preserved my body from destruction, from the scourge of a slanderous tongue, and from lips that went over to falsehood; and in the sight of those who stood by, You have been my helper. And You have delivered me, according to the multitude of the mercy of Your name, from those who did roar, prepared to devour; from the power of those who sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions which compassed me about; from the oppression of the flames which hemmed me in on every side, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt; from the deep belly of the nether world, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from dishonest tongues. My soul shall praise the Lord even to death; because You, O Lord, our God, save those who take refuge in You, and rescue them out of the hands of the nations.
Ps 44:8 You love justice and hate wickedness. V. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness. Alleluia, alleluia. Ps 44:15-16 V. Behind her the virgins of her train are brought to the King. They are borne in to You with gladness. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 25:1-13
At that time Jesus spoke this parable to His disciples: “Then will the kingdom of heaven be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom and the bride. Five of them were foolish and five wise. But the five foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, while the wise did take oil in their vessels with the lamps. Then as the bridegroom was long in coming, they all became drowsy and slept. And at midnight a cry arose, ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go forth to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The wise answered, saying, ‘Lest there may not be enough for us and for you, go rather to those who sell it, and buy some for yourselves.’ Now while they were gone to buy it, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Finally there came also the other virgins, who said, ‘Sir, sir, open the door for us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Amen I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Ps 44:15-16. Behind her the virgins of her train are brought to the King. They are borne in to You with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the Lord, the King.
Accept, O Lord, the gifts we bring on the festival of blessed N., Your Virgin and Martyr, through whose patronage we hope to be delivered. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
Ps 118:78, 80 Let the proud be put to shame for oppressing me unjustly; I will meditate on Your precepts, on Your statutes, that I be not put to shame.
May the sacrament we have received, aid us, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed N., Your Virgin and Martyr, may it keep us forevermore under Your everlasting protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Timeline of Events
October 16, 1890: Maria Goretti is born in Corinaldo, Italy, to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini.
October 17, 1890: She is baptized in the Church of San Francesco in Corinaldo with the names, Maria Teresa.
October 4, 1896: She receives the Sacrament of Confirmation by Bishop Giulio Boschi, the Bishop of Senigallia.
December 12, 1896: The Goretti family leaves Corinaldo and emigrates to Colle Gianturco, near Paliano, in the Latium region south of Rome in central Italy.
February, 1899: The family moves again, this time to Le Ferriere di Conca.
May 6, 1900: After being bit by a mosquito infected with malaria, Maria’s father Luigi dies of the disease.
June 16, 1901: Maria receives her First Communion in the church of Conca (today known as Borgo Montello).
July 5, 1902: At 3:30 pm she is stabbed by Alessandro Serenelli after resisting his violent attempt to rape her.
July 6, 1902: Maria dies in Nettuno at the age of 11 years, 8 months and 21 days, after mercifully forgiving her murderer.
July 8, 1902: She is buried in the cemetery of Nettuno.
May 31, 1935: The information-gathering process for her canonization begins in the diocese of Albano Laziale.
March 25, 1945: Pope Pius XII recognizes the authenticity of the martyrdom of Maria Goretti.
April 27, 1947: Maria is beatified.
June 24, 1950: Maria is declared a saint by Pope Pius XII in St. Peter’s Square. Having died at the age of 11, she is the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church’s long and storied history. The attendance at her canonization exceeded one half million souls, the largest of any canonization up to that point and time. It was a crowd so large that for the first time in its history, St. Peter’s Basilica—the largest church in the world—could not be used for a canonization Mass, because it was too small to hold the faithful who desired to witness the event. Thus, St. Maria’s canonization was moved to St. Peter’s Square, being the first open air canonization in history.