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Colleen Mallette explores the many ways we can learn to be holy by one of the youngest canonized saints.

Today is the feast day of Saint Maria Goretti, one of the youngest saints to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She only lived to be twelve years old, but in that brief life she exhibited incredible faith and holiness that can be a wonderful example for all of us.  

Last January our Catholic Women’s Encounter group leader offered to give each of us a randomly assigned saint to read up on, pray to, and try to emulate for the year. I got Saint Maria Goretti, whom I had never heard of and knew nothing about.  

Once I read up on her brief life, I realized what a blessing it was to have drawn her name as an inspirational young lady who was so bold in her faith. She was also incredibly forgiving and gracious.  

Maria lived a good and caring life full of love of God. She sacrificed her youth to help take care of the house and her younger sister with love and compassion. She did whatever she could to help her widowed mother for the last three years of her life.  




Her tragically young death came at the hands of a young man whose family lived with hers to save money in the late 1800’s in Italy. He repeatedly hit on Maria as she tended to the household chores while the adults were out working the farm fields. She patiently yet strongly always refuted his advances, not wanting either of them to commit a mortal sin. She fought him and screamed, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”  

One day, in a heated rage over her refusal, Maria said she would rather die than submit to him—which aggravated him even more. The young man stabbed her 14 times. When rushed to the hospital, Maria died after having stated her forgiveness of him. She wanted him to know that she forgave him so that his eternal life might be spared because she wanted to see him in heaven with her.  

While he was in prison for her murder, the young man had a dream of Maria giving him lilies, which immediately burned in his hands. When he awoke he realized she had given him exactly 14 flowers, signifying her forgiveness of him for stabbing her 14 times. He immediately repented of his crime and lived a reformed life. After being released from prison 27 years later, he even became a lay brother in a Capuchin monastery. He attended Maria's canonization ceremony after having asked her mother for her forgiveness as well. 


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Saint Maria Goretti's loving attitude toward her enemy is a shining example for all of us to follow. #CatholicMom


Saint Maria Goretti’s boldness in faith and conviction of right actions were an amazing example to all those who heard her story. Her forgiveness and compassion saved not only her own eternal life, but those of her family and her attacker, who were graced by her actions. Her loving attitude toward her enemy is certainly a shining example for all of us to follow.  



Copyright 2023 Colleen Mallette
Images: (top, bottom) Judgefloro, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Canva