Friday, February 13, 2015

Love's Bravest Choice

I was reading a book entitled "Pure Womanhood", I found a prayer for purity at the back portion and saw the name Gioretti. " St. Maria Gioretti, Pray for us" I never forgot her name "Gioretti". I was asking myself why is she the saint of purity and chastity?

I'm a Marian devotee and a member of Total Consecration To Jesus through Mary family. We had a meeting last Thursday on our plans this year. Bea, a friend and a leader mentioned "Gioretti"  and how she became a saint by preserving her purity as a sign of her Big Love to God, so I asked Bea her story and she told me how she remained virgin at her last breathe, she was almost raped by a neighbor named Alessandro but she resisted and shouted "No, it's a sin! I will not do it!, God will not allow it". 

Before her last breathe she forgave Alessandro and said 

"Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise."

Read more further for Maria Gioretti's story and Alessandro's conversion.

October 16, 1890
Maria Goretti is born in Corinaldo, Italy to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini.

October 17, 1890
Maria is baptized in the Church of San Francesco in Corinaldo.

October 4, 1896
Maria is confirmed by Mons. Giulio Boschi, Bishop of Senigallia.

July 5, 1902
Maria was mortally wounded at 15.30 by her neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli, who attacked her with intent to sexually abuse her. He was 20 years old.

July 6, 1902
Maria dies at the age of 11 years, 9 months and 21 days, after forgiving Alessandro.

June 24, 1950
Maria Goretti is declared Saint in St. Peter's Square by Pope Pius XII, becoming the youngest officially recognized Roman Catholic saint ever.

Her Story:

The daughter of humble sharecroppers, Maria and her family moved to the little town of Ferriere, Italy in 1899 in search of work .Desperately seeking to support his family, Luigi Goretti struck up a bargain with Signor Serenelli, who had a son named Alessandro.The two families lived together in a building owned by Count Mazzolini.

Maria quickly matured in grace and holiness in the eyes of friends and other acquaintances. After losing her father to malaria, she developed great strength and maturity. Her charming modesty, cheerful obedience and the serious, but free acceptance of a hundred thankless home chores distinguished her from the other children who would play in the dusty streets of Ferriere. Perhaps the highlight of her life was her First Holy Communion, which she dutifully prepared for and awaited with great anticipation. She truly seemed to be advancing "in wisdom, and age and grace before God and men."

Lured by the passions of his day and nurturing the dark side of his soul with impious reading and thoughts, Alessandro Serenelli had been a thorn in lovely Maria's side. He propositioned her on several occasions and harassed her with impure suggestions. On July 5, 1902, he would be denied no longer. As she once again rebuffed his sexual advance, shouting, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!", Alexander lunged to the deed, stabbing Maria 14 times.

Doctors in Nettuno tried to save Maria's life to no avail. After 20 painful hours of suffering during which she forgave and prayed for Alessandro, Maria entered Heaven fortified with the Last Sacraments. Her last earthly gaze rested upon a picture of the Blessed Mother. It was July 6, 1902.

Almost fifty years later on June 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII stood on the steps of St. Peter's in Rome and pronounced Maria Goretti a Saint and Martyr of the Universal Church to half a million people. He proposed her as the Patroness of Modern Youth and set July 6th as her feast Day. Her mother, and her murderer, attended the canonization ceremony together.

This was the triumph of the little girl who loved God and hated sin.
Maria Goretti had led a very ordinary life. But in spite of her simplicity, her great faith and love for God made her truly extraordinary.

Alessandro Serenelli : A story of a miraculous concversion

His Story

Serenelli was born into a peasant family. His father, John, was an alcoholic and his mother died in a psychiatric hospital when Alessandro was only a few months old, apparently after trying to drown her newborn son. A brother of the young man was interned in a psychiatric hospital, where he died. Alessandro's father worked as a coachman and a laborer but was unable to keep any job for a long time because of alcoholism and moved to Paliano to work as a M├ętayage. Here Serenelli knew the Goretti family with whom he established a relationship of cooperation and neighborliness. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the young Alessandro attended school until the second grade, learning to read and write, but already at the age of seven, he was sent by his brothers to work as a cabin boy to help the family. At eighteen, his father called him to work with him in Paliano.

In 1902 Alessandro, nineteen year old, who had never had sex with a woman and was described by all as a very shy young man, quiet and shy, began to harass little Mary, then ten years old. In testimony given by him, it is possible can find this sentence, pronounced before the brutal incident: "After the second attempt in my mind was formed more than ever the intention to succeed in the vent of my passion and I conceived the idea to kill her if she continued to resist my cravings."

On 5 July 1902, he returned to the house 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 raping her. She kept screaming, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" Alessandro 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.

The psychiatric made during the process found him capable of consent but he recognized that the conditions of his absolutely miserable life when a young man, and repeated cases of Mental disorder and alcoholism of his family to some extent attenuated his responsibility.

With due process, Serenelli was sentenced to 30 years in prison: he avoided life imprisonment because according to the laws of that time, he was not yet of age to be subject to that penalty. He was released from prison in 1929, after serving 27 years. Of the 30 to which he had been sentenced, one year was remitted by the general pardon to all prisoners after the Italian victory in I World War, and two were in recognition of good behavior.

In the days which followed, Alessandro lost his appetite and grew nervous. After six years of prison, he was near the brink of despair. Then one night, Maria appeared to him in his cell. She smiled at Alessandro and was surrounded by lilies, the flower symbolic of purity.

From that moment, peace invaded Alessandro's heart, and he began to live a constructive life.
On the night of Christmas of 1934 Alessandro begged forgiveness on his knees from the mother of Maria Goretti, who forgave him, because her daughter had done so on her deathbed. Having worked sporadically as a farmer and laborer, Serenelli eventually retired to a monastery of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, where he served as their gardener and porter.

In 1950 Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII with her murderer Serenelli present as she was raised to the altars.

Serenelli died from complications of a fracture of the femur following a fall on 16 May 1970, in a convent at Macerata. He was 88 years old.

Alessandro's last words:
"I'm nearly 80 years old. I'm about to depart.

"Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.
"My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.

"There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.

"When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.

"If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.

"Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I've been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

"I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life."

Signature, Alessandro Serenelli

Love and forgiveness. 
Happy Valentine's Day to us all! :)


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