The Canonization of Saint Maria GorettiSaint Maria Goretti, champion of Chastity, died in holiness that hot summer day in 1902in the hospital in Nettuno. She was eleven years old. She was buried locally and remained there until 1929 when the Passionist Fathers asked Assunta’s permission to place her body in the Sanctuary of the Basilica of Our Lady of Grace in Nettuno. She has been enshrined in that church ever since. Assunta obeyed Luigi after the death of her daughter. She took her children with her and returned to Corinaldo. There were times when she wondered if she had been stronger, if she had stood up to Luigi, if the Cimarellis had not wanted to leave Corinaldo, or if they had not followed them, if Maria would still be alive. But then she realized as the years unfolded and the sanctity of her daughter was brought more and more into the public eye, this child was martyred for a reason. She was to be the champion of purity and chastity, long after her death. She was to be a role model for these last days of the Twentieth Century when she would be needed the most. Maria Goretti was beatified in 1947 as a Martyr of Purity. Less than three years later, she was canonized by the same Pope, Pius XII.
At her Canonization on June 24, 1950 in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Pope Pius XII, whom we believe will one day be raised to the Communion of Saints, said of the occasion:
“The concourse of the faithful come here for the occasion, exceeds anything that has ever been witnessed at any other canonization. You have been lured here, We might almost say, by the entrancing beauty and intoxicating fragrance of this lily mantled with crimson whom We, only a moment ago, had the intense pleasure of inscribing in the roll of the Saints: the sweet little martyr of purity, Maria Goretti.
“But why, beloved children, have you come here in such countless numbers to assist at her glorification?
“...why does this story move you even to tears? Why has Maria Goretti so quickly conquered your hearts, and taken the first place in your affections?
“The reason is because there is still in this world, apparently sunk and immersed in the worship of pleasure, not only a meager little band of chosen souls who thirst for Heaven and its pure air - but a crowd, nay, an immense multitude on whom the supernatural fragrance of Christian purity exercises an irresistible and reassuring fascination.
“...During the past fifty years, coupled with what was often a weak reaction on the part of decent people, there has been a conspiracy of evil practices, propagating themselves in books and illustrations, in theaters and radio programs, in styles and clubs and on the beaches, trying to work their way into the heart of the family and society, and doing their worst damage among the youth. (Oh, if you only knew, your Holiness)
“Dearly beloved youth....tell me, are you resolved to resist firmly with the help of Divine Grace, against every attempt made to violate your chastity?
“You fathers and mothers, tell me - in the presence of this vast multitude and before the image of this young virgin who by her inviolate candor has stolen your hearts...in the presence of her mother who educated her to martyrdom and who, as much as she felt the bitterness of the outrage, never complained about her daughter’s death and is now moved with emotion as she invokes her - tell me, are you ready to assume the solemn duty laid upon you to watch, as far as in you lies, over your sons and daughters, to preserve and defend them against so many dangers that surround them, and to keep them always far away from places where they might learn the practices of impiety and of moral perversion?
“Finally, all of you who are intently listening to Our Words, know that above the unhealthy marshes and filth of the world, stretches an immense heaven of beauty. It is the heaven which fascinated little Maria; the heaven to which she longed to ascend by the only road that leads there, which is, religion, the love of Christ, and the heroic observance of His commandments.
“We greet you, O beautiful and lovable Saint! Martyr on earth and Angel in Heaven, look down from your glory on this people which loves you, which venerates, glorifies and exalts you.
“...In you, through Our hands, the children and all the young people will find a safe refuge, trusting that they shall be protected from every contamination, and be able to walk the highways of life with that serenity of spirit and deep joy which is the heritage of those who are pure of heart. Amen”
(Speech given by Pope Pius XII at the Canonization of St. Maria Goretti )
Saint Maria Goretti, Saint of Purity, Saint of Youth, Saint of the Twentieth Century, is a role model for chastity in our world today. Her sacrifice can be used by those who follow as an example of how to live life to the fullest in Christ Jesus. Her life can be a triumph of good over evil, or it can be a waste. That, my brothers and sisters, is completely up to us. Praise Jesus!