Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Sunday, July 31, 2005

SAINT MARIA GORETTI




Saint Maria Goretti 1890-1902

Martyr of Purity

Patronage : against impoverishment, against poverty, girls, loss of parents, martyrs, rape victims, young people in general.

A girl’s real beauty is within. It is a thing of her soul, shining through her pure eyes and radiating her whole body. It is something by which she makes men aware of the truth and beauty and goodness of God by reflecting that beauty and goodness in herself.


The daughter of humble sharecroppers, Maria and her family moved to the little town of Ferriere, Italy in 1899 in search of work . Misery followed them but hope was adamant. 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.


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. 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 Allesandro 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!". He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her fourteen times. She resisted until the very end.

Doctors in Nettuno tried to save Maria's life to no avail. On her dying bed her soul was ready for her final tryst with God but there was one last deed to be done. She reflected on the crucifix on the wall and said “for the love of Jesus I pardon him and I want him to be with me in Heaven”

After 20 painful hours of suffering during which she forgave and prayed for Alessandro, Maria entered Heaven fortified with the Last Sacraments. The priest who came to give Maria her Last Sacrament placed a medallion of the Blessed Mother around her neck. She kissed the picture of the Holy Virgin on the medallion and prayed in the words that Catharine Labouré was given by Our Lady:

MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN, PRAY FOR US WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO THEE"

Her last earthly gaze rested upon a picture of the Blessed Mother on July 6, 1902.

Maria Goretti died a martyr before her twelfth birthday. Young as she was, she made a choice, a choice based on her faith. The Church holds up to the world the life, death and the faith of Maria Goretti

While in prison for his crime, Allessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro's conversion, and he later testified at her cause for beatification.

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. She is the voice of Mary recalling the church to Prayer and Penance and Heroic Virtue. In addition, it was her special vocation to live the uncompromising absolute: to choose to die rather than to sin, and to become the shining lovely saint of Purity. Everything in her life prepared her to be the special instrument of the Holy Virgin.

Although she was poor and deprived of a school education, Maria, who was not yet 12 years old had a strong and mature personality, shaped by the religious instruction she had received in the family. This shows the importance of teaching our children the faith and it made her capable not only of defending herself with heroic chastity, but even of forgiving her murderer.

Each generation is taught by an earlier generation...if we are skeptical we shall teach only skepticism to our pupils, if fools only folly, if vulgar only vulgarity, if saints sanctity, if heroes heroism...Nothing which was not in the teachers can flow from them into the pupils. (C.S.Lewis )

Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility. Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility Maria was given the name of Our Lady. May the purest of human creatures help the men and women of our time, and especially young people, to rediscover the value of chastity and to live interpersonal relations in reciprocal respect and sincere love.

Maria's story is powerful. It echoes Pope John Paul II's cry to today's youth- "do not be afraid to be saints!" We must not be afraid to learn who Christ is, to forgive like Him, to see our own sexuality and personal integrity in the light of Christ even if that is different to our contemporaries.

Saint Rose of Lima


"Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."-Saint Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Lima


Patroness of:Peru, South and Central America, the Indies, and the Philippines, embroiderers, florists, gardeners, needle workers and people ridiculed for their piety.

The life of this saint is like that of a rose among thorns. She was born into a poor but upper-class family in Peru, soon after the conquest.

Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), Patroness of the Americas, is the first canonized Saint of the New World. Born on Peruvian soil, Saint Rose was Spanish, her maternal great-grandmother was Incan. She was the tenth of thirteen children.

As a child she was remarkable for a great reverence and a pronounced love for all things relating to God. This so took possession of her that thenceforth her life was given up to prayer and mortification. She had an intense devotion to the Infant Jesus and His Blessed Mother, before whose altar she spent hours. She was scrupulously obedient and of untiring industry, making rapid progress by earnest attention to her parents instruction, to her studies, and to her domestic work, especially with her needle.

After reading of St. Catherine she determined to take this Saint as her model. She began by fasting three times a week, adding secret severe penances, and when her vanity was assailed, cutting off her beautiful hair, wearing coarse clothing, and roughening her hands with toil. All this time she had to struggle against the objections of her friends, the ridicule of her family, and the censure of her parents. Many hours were spent before the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily.

Finally she determined to take a vow of virginity, and inspired by supernatural love, adopted extraordinary means to fulfill it. At the outset she had to combat the opposition of her parents, who wished her to marry. For ten years the struggle continued before she won, by patience and prayer, their consent to continue her mission. At the same time great temptations assailed her purity, faith, and constancy, causing her excruciating agony of mind and desolation of spirit, urging her to more frequent mortifications; but daily also, Our Lord manifested Himself, fortifying her with the knowledge of His presence and consoling her mind with evidence of His Divine love. Fasting daily was soon followed by perpetual abstinence from meat, and that in turn, by use of only the coarsest food and just sufficient to support life.

Her days were filled with acts of charity and industry, her exquisite lace and embroidery helping to support her home, while her nights were devoted to prayer and penance. When her work permitted, she retired to a little grotto that she had built with her brother's aid, in their small garden, and there, passed her nights in solitude and prayer. Overcoming the opposition of her parents, and with the consent of her confessor, she was allowed later to become practically a recluse in this cell, save for her visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

When she was twelve, she received the habit of St. Dominic. Thereafter she redoubled the severity and variety of her penances to a heroic degree, wearing constantly a metal spiked crown, concealed by roses, and an iron chain about her waist. Days passed without food, save a drought of gall mixed with bitter herbs. When she could no longer stand, she sought repose on a bed constructed by herself, of broken glass, stone, and thorns. She admitted that the thought of lying down on it made her tremble with dread. Fourteen years this martyrdom of her body continued without relaxation, but not without consolation. Our Lord revealed Himself to her frequently, flooding her soul with such inexpressible peace and joy as to leave her in ecstasy for hours. At these times she offered to Him all her mortifications and penances in expiation for offenses against His Divine Majesty, for the idolatry of her country, for the conversion of sinners, and for the souls in Purgatory. Many miracles followed her death.

Saint Rose was a friend and confidant of Saint Martin de Porres, who lived in the same city. She was confirmed by Saint Toribio Mogrovejo, Archbishop of Lima. Her mystical experiences caused an ecclesiastical inquiry. Her life is a spotless mirror in which we see ourselves, whatever our color, our station, our land and our age, whatever our chosen vocation. Like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Rose took our Lord by the heart. In taking him, she took his church. Her life is our boast, our crown, our defense, and a challenge to love completely.

Saint Rose is the only American saint whose words appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One quote: “When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.” [CCC, #2449]

The statue of Saint Rose has a crown of roses,the Cross and a rose—symbols associated with Saint Rose. On both sides of this image, the white roses represent the rose given to her by the Child Jesus and the lilies represent purity.

She was beatified by Pope Clement IX, in 1667 and canonized in 1671 by Clement X, the first American to be so honoured. In 1670, Pope Clement X described Rose as the "the New World's first flower of holiness" and proclaimed her the Patroness of the Americas and the Philippines. These newly evangelized territories of the New World were seen by Mother Church as the New Christendom and Rose was its first an finest fruit. Her feast is celebrated August 23rd.

Saint Rose, through prayer and love you developed your true beauty. Help fill my life with the love and beauty that comes from God. Amen.


Writings of Saint Rose Of Lima


"Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."

"Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven." When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: "Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul." "If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."


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