St. Maria is known for courageously fighting off her attacker Alessandro Serenelli who attempted to molest her in the summer of 1902 in the town of Nettuno. She told Alessandro that he would go to hell if he committed the rape. Instead, the young man, in a fit of rage, stabbed the little girl several times leaving her mortally wounded. Upon finding her bleeding to death, St. Maria was rushed to the nearest hospital. As she lay dying in the hospital she told her grieving mother Assunta that she had forgiven Alessandro for his crime and desired that he go to heaven.
Alessandro went to prison as a hardened criminal, unrepentant of his murder of little Maria. Thirty years into his incarceration, the man had a dream in which St. Maria appeared to him. Waking up from the dream, Alessandro was a changed man. He repented of his sin and was eventually released from prison for good behavior. Upon his release he asked to visit the Assunta, the mother of St. Maria. He told Assunta that he deeply grieved over his sin of murder of her daughter and asked for forgiveness. Assunta forgave the man, now on in his years. Eventually, Alessandro would go on to lead a life of holiness and prayer.
In 1946, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria Goretti as a saint. Assunta, the child's mother, was present on that beautiful day.
St. Maria is the patron saint of holy purity. In a world that is consumed with sexual promiscuity, pornography, molestation, and violence, this child saint stands out as a bright light of hope for those affected by the sins of our culture. So many miracles have been attested to the presence of these beautiful relics - conversions and healings. My hope is that St. Maria will bring about a great revival of faith for all those who approach her.