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Our Patron Saint

Our Patron Saint - St. Maria Goretti

With St. Maria Goretti as our patron, we strive to follow her life of forgiveness and holiness. She is one of the youngest canonized saints in the Church and died at the age of 11 after forgiving her attacker. Maria is known as The Little Saint of Great Mercy.

St. Maria Goretti's feast day is July 6. When we first placed her statue in the garden, we planted a row of white asiatic lilies in front of her statue. Each year, on the anniversary of her feast day, these lilies bloom, four feet tall. We invite you to stop by, enjoy, and offer a prayer to our patron saint.

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.

About the Saint

St. Maria Goretti is one of the youngest canonized saints in the Church. She died tragically on July 6, 1902, at the age of 11 after forgiving her attacker. Maria is known as The Little Saint of Great Mercy.

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.

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The bronze statue of our patron saint, St. Maria Goretti, which stands in our Commemorative Garden, was installed and dedicated in 2010.

The statue was made in Ortisei, Italy, located in the Bolzano province of northern Italy in the Dolomite Mountains. The area is one of the last places on earth that still teaches and produces sculpture and decorating for ecclesiastical art, according to Peter Stemper of T.H. Stemper Co., which facilitated the ordering and purchasing of the statue of St. Maria Goretti.

Our statue was created using a process called lost wax casting technique, a multi-step, very detailed technique, involving a clay mold, rubber, plaster, wax, a ceramic “slurry” and molten bronze. The process has been used for thousands of years to create large bronze forms in 3-D that have a lot of detail.

The term "lost wax" refers to a step where, after a wax form is created, molten bronze is poured in and melts the wax away, draining it out of the form as the bronze takes its place. The bronze is fired so it will accept what is called a patina, a chemical reaction on the surface to get color.

Her face was also smoothed more than usual, to show how young she was (11 years old at the time of her death).

The statue of Maria stands as tall as she actually was - 4'7" - and it weighs more than 300 pounds.

When the relics of St. Maria Goretti visited our parish in October of 2015, the reliquary was touched to our statue, making it a third-class relic.

Visit of St. Maria Goretti's Relics

Our parish was honored to have the major relics of our patron saint in our church October 16-17, 2015, as part of the Pilgrimage of Mercy: Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti.

From September to November, 2015 the major relics of St. Maria Goretti made a pilgrimage to the United States. Named the “Pilgrimage of Mercy,” it was the first time that her body traveled to the United States.

In March 2015, His Holiness, Pope Francis, announced an Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy beginning December 8, 2015. This visit of the major relics of St. Maria Goretti was an effort on the part of the Holy See and Treasures of the Church to prepare and catechize the United States for this great celebration in the life of the Church.

Our parish was chosen as a stop on the tour in part because of the large number of students in our school and the religious education and youth ministry programs. St. Maria Goretti, at that time the youngest person ever canonized a saint, is a patron saint of, among other things, youth and forgiveness.

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Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

Saint Maria Goretti,
Little Saint of Great Mercy,
thank you for being our parish patron
and a model of how to live the Gospel.
We pray that our hearts may be
as merciful and forgiving as yours.

Please intercede for us to Christ
that we may have the grace and strength
to do as you did—to choose to forgive.
Help us to forgive those who have hurt us.
Help us to ask for forgiveness
from those whom we have hurt.
May all our relationships
be rich in mercy.

Saint Maria Goretti, intercede for us
that healings may be granted,
and that Christ’s mercy and love
may go out to all the world
to bring about peace.

We ask all this in faith
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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