Today happens to be one my Confirmation saint's feast day. St. Maria Goretti. She holds a special place in my heart after learning her story. It was pretty much an easy choice when it came time to finally choosing a saint's name. Once my mother brought her to my attention, I knew she was the one for me! I pray to her daily... Here is a little bit more about her for those of you who might not know too much about her. She is known as the patron saint of rape victims, of youth, young women, and purity.
The info below came from another website... I cut out a large portion of it in hopes that it would not be so lengthy, but it is still kind of long.
Before the age of seven, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm, move, and work for other farmers. They ended up sharing a house with another family which included Giovanni Serenelli and his son Alessandro. Soon, Maria's father Luigi became very sick with malaria, and died when Maria was just nine years old.
On July 5, 1902, finding eleven-year old Maria alone sewing, Alessandro Serenelli came in and threatened her with death if she did not do as he said; he was intending to rape her. She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning Alessandro that he would go to Hell. She desperately fought to stop Alessandro from abusing her. She kept screaming, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" Alessandro at first choked Maria, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The injured Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.
Maria's little sister Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Serenelli's father and Maria's mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia, but her injuries were beyond the doctors' help. Halfway throughout the surgery, Maria woke up. She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist of the hospital in which she died said to her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." She looked to the old man: "Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first?" "You, Maria," he replied. "Then I will gladly think of you," said Maria. The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, Maria died of her injuries, while looking at a very beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother.
Serenelli's imprisonment and repentance
Alessandro Serenelli was captured shortly after Maria's death. Originally, he was going to be sentenced to life, but since he was a minor at that time the sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant and uncommunicative from the world for three years, until a local bishop, Monsignor Giovanni Blandini visited him in jail. Serenelli wrote a thank you note to the Bishop asking for his prayers and telling him about a dream, "in which Maria Goretti gave him lilies, which burned immediately in his hands."
After his release, Alessandro Serenelli visited Maria's still-living mother, Assunta, and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed then she couldn't do less, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side. Alessandro reportedly prayed every day to Maria Goretti and referred to her as "my little saint." He attended her canonization in 1950.
Serenelli later became a lay brother living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until dying peacefully in 1970.
Maria's CannonizationOn June 24, 1950, Pius XII canonized Goretti as a saint, the "Saint Agnes" of the 20th century." Owing to the huge crowd present, the ceremonies associated with the canonization were held outside of Saint Peter's Basilica. Pius XII spoke, not as before in Latin, but in Italian. "We order and declare, that the blessed Maria Goretti can be venerated as a Saint and We introduce her into the Canon of Saints". Some 500,000 people, among them a majority of youth, had come from around the world. Pius asked them: "Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?" A resounding "yes" was the answer.