I am privileged and blessed to be able to teach Confirmation at one of our local parishes. It puts me in a position to share my own faith journey and thoughts with teenagers. Our conversation this week centered around choices and mercy. We ended up talking about St. Maria Goretti and the teenager who took her life, 19 year-old Alessandro Serenelli. Maria lived for 24 hours after being attacked by Alessandro. As she laid on her deathbed, she prayed continuously for his soul and for his forgiveness. She told her parents that she was pained more greatly at the thought of his soul going to hell than her own physical pain caused by his hands. As she lay dying, she made a distinct choice: the choice to forgive and show love for a sinner.
For years, after her death, Alessandro showed no remorse for killing Maria. Around 1910, while in prison, Alessandro had a life-changing dream. In the dream Maria handed him a bouquet of 14 flowers: one flower for each of the stab wounds she endured at his hand. She re-iterated her forgiveness of him and told him she continued to pray for his soul. He immediately wept for his grievous sin. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Alessandro underwent an incredible transformation. Upon his release from prison, he became a Capuchin lay brother.
In 1950, Maria Goretti was canonized. At the steps of the Vatican, stood her mother and at her side Alessandor Serenelli who fell to his knees and wept…
Her story moves me deeply as I look at the young men and women who walk our halls here at Pacelli Catholic High School. It is my hope that with the graces of the Holy Spirit and the great people we have here, we can teach all our children to be compassionate, forgiving and merciful throughout their lives.
Pacelli Catholic High School
St. Maria Goretti- Patron saint of youth, teenage girls and forgiveness.