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July 6-Saint Maria Goretti

Today we celebrate a young martyr who died at just 11 years of age—Maria Goretti. This Italian girl was known for her strong faith at a very early age. She was so beloved in her farm town that the whole community came together to help her obtain the needed white dress for her first Holy Communion. But for her this white dress was a symbol of a true reality. She was known for her purity her entire life. In fact, it was in protecting her purity that she found the gift of martyrdom.

Aside from being pure she also had great beauty for her age. Her neighbor Alexander always had her in his sights and wanted to have her for himself, despite her desire to keep her purity. His interest in her grew so great that one day in 1902, at 18 years old, Alexander grabbed Maria and attempted to rape her. In the end, he stabbed her and left her mortally wounded. She would go on to die in the hospital not long after. But before dying Maria forgave her murderer.

Unrepentant for his crime, Alexander was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Nevertheless, one night he dreamt that he was in a garden and received flowers from Maria. He awoke a converted soul begging for forgiveness from Maria’s mother. He was present in 1950 for Maria’s canonization.

In Maria the Church has given us a model for purity. Parents can learn from Maria’s conviction just as much as our children of today can. After all, parents are the first representatives of God in a child’s life. If a parent loves purity, so too should their child.

May Maria always intercede for our youth from heaven, but also for their parents and teachers, that they may be proper role models. May we also learn her ways of forgiving our persecutors.

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