Ngày 06 tháng 7

THÁNH NỮ MARIA GORETTI

Trinh nữ Tử Đạo lúc 12 tuổi.

Người Ư (1890-1902)

 

            1. Con nhà nghèo, nhưng đạo hạnh:

               Maria Goretti, sinh ngày 16 tháng 10 năm 1890, tại miền Corinando,  nước Ư,  trong một gia đ́nh rất nghèo khó,  lại đông con. Goretti trải qua thời thơ ấu khổ cực làm việc ngoài đồng với cha mẹ.

Khi lên 9 tuổi th́ cha qua đời.  Goretti ngày ngày giúp mẹ trong công việc gia đ́nh.  Là một thiếu nữ đồng quê hồn nhiên,  đạo đức,  siêng năng cầu nguyện. Gia đ́nh làm việc vất vả, nhưng rất vui vẻ, yêu thương nhau, v́ có Chúa và Mẹ Maria ngự trị chia sẻ khổ cực.

            Gia đ́nh Goretti nghèo quá, nên phải ở nhờ gia đ́nh ông bà Serenelli. Gia đ́nh này có cậu con trai 18 tuổi, tên là Alessandro. Cậu này thích đọc sách và giữ h́nh bậy bạ, nên tâm trí hay hướng về t́nh dục. Nhiều lần hắn tới bên Goretti dụ cô thỏa măn xác thịt. Cô từ chối và rất sợ hắn.

            2. Quyết không phạm tội và tha thứ cho kẻ giết ḿnh: 

Năm 1902, cô lên 12 tuổi. Hôm đó là ngày 5 tháng 7, lúc mọi người đi làm việc ngoài đồng, Goretti phải coi nhà, nấu cơm, khâu vá.  Alessandro ở ngoài đồng về. Lợi dụng lúc mọi người ở xa,  Alessandro thấy Goretti xinh đẹp, quyến dũ, hắn động ḷng, rủ rê, và ép phạm tội. Cô nhất định từ chối. Cô c̣n nói với Alessandro :

-"Đừng, đừng, Chúa không muốn chúng ta làm điều đó.  Làm thế phải xuống hỏa ngục đấy". Cô đẩy hắn ra. Thấy nài ép măi không được,  hắn giận điên lên, lấy khăn bịt miệng, đẩy cô vào pḥng, lấy dao đâm cô tới tấp 14 lát. Cô ngă gục xuống nhà, bị thương rất nặng, máu me chan hoà. Một lúc sau, may mắn, người nhà về, vội chở cô vào nhà thương cấp cứu. Qua 24 giờ đau đớn đến hôm sau, Goretti đă chết tại bệnh viện Nettuno.  Trước khi tắt thở, thều thào nói :

-"V́ ḷng yêu mến Chúa Kitô, tôi sẵn sàng tha thứ cho Alessandro và muốn anh ăn năn để được lên thiên đàng". Alessandro bị cảnh sát c̣ng tay ngay và mang bản án 30 năm tù.

            Trong tù, lúc đầu Alessandro không chịu ăn năn, hắn tỏ ra căm thù, tức giận.

Sau 6 năm, Goretti hiện về với hắn trong giấc mơ, và trao cho hắn bó hoa huệ trắng ngần. Đời hắn thay đổi từ hôm đó. Sau 27 năm tù tội, anh ta được tha, việc đầu tiên anh ta đến xin lỗi má của Goretti. Bà đă tha thứ. Tiếp theo, Alessandro xin đi tu để sống đời thống hối.

           

            3. Cuộc phong thánh đông chưa từng có:

Năm 1950 Đức Giáo Hoàng Piô 12 đă tôn phong Maria Goretti lên bậc Thánh,  trước sự hiện diện của bà mẹ 87 tuổi, anh, các chị và Alessandro là kẻ đă giết thánh trẻcùng với 250 ngàn người dự thánh lễ. Chưa từng có cuộc phong thánh nào đông như vậy.

            Trong bài giảng lễ phong thánh,  Đức Giáo Hoàng đă ca ngợi thánh nữ và kêu gọi mọi người noi gương sáng của thánh trẻ như sau :

"Thánh nữ phải đương đầu với một cuộc tấn công hung tợn và mù quáng th́nh ĺnh xông tới, định làm nhơ nhớp sự trinh trong như thiên thần của Người.... Thánh nữ đă đem hết ư chí quảng đại can trường để đáp trả và  đă hy sinh mạng sống để giữ trinh sạch đẹp ḷng Chúa".

            "Trong cuộc đời của thiếu nữ khiêm cung ấy, không những cha thấy có nhiều vẻ xứng đáng với thiên quốc mà c̣n xứng đáng cho đời ca ngợi,  kính yêu. Ước ǵ các bậc cha mẹ  trong các gia đ́nh thấy rơ được bổn phận ḿnh phải giáo dục con cái trong đường ngay chính,  thánh thiện,  can trường phù hợp với các giới răn,  để chúng biết thắng lướt được những nguy hiểm ở đời".

            "Ước ǵ tuổi trẻ vui tươi và tuổi thanh niên hăng hái cũng học biết, đừng sống buông thả theo thú tính mau qua và giả dối hoặc theo các hấp lực quyến rũ của các đam mê,  nhưng ngược lại hăy hăng say cố gắng vươn lên tới  sự trọn lành trong đời sống  luân lư Kitô giáo,  cho dù phải trải qua bao nỗi khó khăn vất vả. Với ư chí cương quyết, được ơn trên phù trợ, có ngày mọi người chúng ta sẽ có thể đạt tới sự trọn lành ấy nhờ sự cố gắng, làm việc và cầu nguyện".

            Goretti đă có ḷng mến Chúa Giêsu mạnh mẽ, quí trọng đức trinh khiết, can đảm phi thường, biết tha thứ cho kẻ hại ḿnh, biết noi gương Chúa Kitô. Chỉ có 12 tuổi, đời cô đă nói lên vang dội hơn bất cứ lời rao giảng nào. Xin thánh Maria Goretti giúp các thiếu nữ biết giữ ḿnh trong trắng.

                   ---

Maria Goretti was born a poor peasant child in Italy in 1890, the third of six children.
When she was nine, her family's situation grew even worse, when her father died of malaria.
Maria's mother dutifully took her husband's place in the fields, while little Maria took her mother's role in caring for her siblings.
The family was able to survive by working the fields of a Count, a job they shared with a man named Giovanni Serenelli and his teenager son Alessandro. Mr. Serenelli kept most of the profits from the farming, leaving the Goretti family quite poor and frequently hungry.

Through all the difficulties, Maria did her best. When neighbors or kindly merchants would give Maria a treat, she would take it home to share with her brothers and sisters. Cheerful and intelligent, Maria was also beautiful, with chestnut hair complementing her delicate features.

On Maria's frequent trips into the nearby village to sell eggs and chickens and to buy supplies for her family, she would visit the shrine of Our Lady of Graces.
Her family being too poor to pay for Masses in her father's memory, every night Maria would recite the five Mysteries of the Rosary for the repose of her father's soul.

In June of 1902, 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli began ordering 11-year-old Maria to perform various difficult chores, none of which could be completed to his satisfaction, and she was often reduced to tears. Alessandro also began making advances on Maria. She rebuffed them all, but, unfortunately, said nothing to her mother, for fear of causing trouble.

On July 5, 1902, Alessandro ordered Maria to mend one of his shirts. As Maria sat mending, caring for her little sister Theresa, Alessandro burst in and motioned Maria into a bedroom. As usual, she refused, but this time, he grabbed her, pulled her into the bedroom, and closed the door. He demanded that she submit to him, but she told him that it would be a sin. Enraged, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times in her heart, lungs, and intestines, and then fled to his bedroom, where he pretended to be asleep.

When little Theresa woke up and began to cry, the family discovered Maria lying on the floor. She survived for 20 hours in the hospital, undergoing surgery without anesthesia. Asked if she forgave her murderer, she replied, "Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise." She died on July 6.

Unrepentant, Alessandro was convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In his eighth year of imprisonment, he had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden. where a young girl, dressed in white, was gathering lilies. She smiled, and came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he accepted them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared.

Alessandro's conversion was complete. When he was released from prison after serving 27 years, his first act was to travel to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness. He then found a job as a gardener in a Capuchin monastery, a job he held for the rest of his life.

Along with 30 other witnesses, Alessandro testified as to Maria's sanctity during her Cause of Beatification.
In 1950, she was canonized in a ceremony attended by a quarter million people, including her mother, the first mother ever to see her child canonized.


(Dave Kopel)
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Early life

St. Maria Goretti was born "Maria Teresa Goretti"  in the year 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Province of Ancona, then the Kingdom of Italy. She was the third out of six children. By the time she was six, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm, move, and work for other farmers. Soon, Maria's father became very sick. Luigi Goretti died when Maria was nine. While her brother, mother and sisters worked in the fields, Maria would cook, sew, and keep the house clean. It was a hard life, but the family was very close. They shared a deep love for God and the Faith. She and her family moved to Le Ferriere di Conca, near modern Latina and Nettuno in Lazio, where they lived in a building they shared with another family, the Serenellis.

Maria's martyrdom

On July 5, 1902, finding eleven-year old Maria alone sewing, Alessandro Serenelli came in and threatened her with death if she did not do as he said. 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 Alessandro at first choked Maria, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The injured yet still-living Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.

Maria's little sister Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Serenelli's father and Maria's mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia, but her injuries were already beyond anything the doctors could do. Halfway throughout the surgery, Maria woke up. She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist of the hospital in which she died asked her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." She looked to the old man: "Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first." "You Maria," he replied. "Then I will gladly think of you," Maria said with a smile. The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, Maria died of her injuries.

Serenelli's imprisonment and repentance

Alessandro Serenelli was captured shortly after Maria's death. Originally, he was going to be sentenced to death, but since he was a minor at that time the sentence was commuted for 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant and uncommunicative from the world, for three years, until a local bishop, Monsignor Giovanni Blandini visited him in jail. Serenelli wrote a thank you note to the Bishop asking for his prayers and telling him about a dream, "in which Maria Goretti gave him lilies, which burned immediately in his hands."

After his release, Alessandro Serenelli visited Maria's still-living mother, Assunta, and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed then she couldn't do less, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side. Alessandro reportedly prayed every day to Maria Goretti and referred to her as "my little saint."

Serenelli later became a Capuchin laybrother, living in a convent and working as its receptionist and gardener, until dying peacefully in the year 1970.

Beatification and canonization

A statue of St. Maria Goretti in peasant garb holding lilies and a knife

On the evening of the beatification ceremonies in Saint Peter's, April 27, 1947, Pope Pius XII walked over to the mother of Maria Goretti, nicknamed "Mamma Assunta" by her neighbors. She almost fainted. "When I saw the Pope coming, I prayed, Madonna, please help me. He put his hand on my head and said, blessed mother, happy mother, mother of a Blessed!" They both had eyes wet with tears.[13]

Three years later on June 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII canonized Blessed Maria Goretti as a Virgin and Martyr saint, the "Saint Agnes of the 20th century." Mamma Assunta was again present at the ceremony, along with her four remaining sons and daughters. She was the first mother ever to attend the canonization ceremony of her child. Alessandro Serenelli, her repentant murderer, was also present at the canonization.

Owing to the huge crowd present, the ceremonies associated with the canonization of Blessed Maria Goretti were held outside of the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Piazza San Pietro on June 24, 1950. Pope Pius XII spoke, not as before in Latin, but in Italian. "We order and declare, that the blessed Maria Goretti can be venerated as a Saint and We introduce her into the Canon of Saints." Some 500,000 people, among them a majority of youth, had come from around the World. Pope Pius XII asked them:

"Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?"

A resounding "yes" was the answer.

Feast day

Saint Maria Goretti's feast day, celebrated on 6 July, was inserted in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for the first time when it was revised in 1969. It was not in the General Roman Calendar of 1962.

Papal honors for Maria Goretti

-Pope Pius XII was not the only Pope who had high praise for the Saint. While most saints are often left to local care after their canonization, St Maria Goretti received two Papal visits to her shrine.

-On September 14, 1969, Pope Paul VI visited her shrine in Nettuno and honored her with these words: "The value of Christian virtue is so great, so overwhelming, so imperative, that it is worth more than life. Purity is not just a separate part of our being. It belongs to our existence as a whole, it is essential for our life. Purity brings us in harmony of body and soul."

-Ten years later, on September 1, 1979, Pope John Paul II honored St Maria Goretti with a visit and spoke before thousands of faithful: "Maria Goretti, so illuminating with her spiritual beauty, challenges us to a firm and secure faith in the Word of God, as the only source of truth, to remain firm against the temptations of this world."

"Young people, look at Maria Goretti, don’t be tempted by the tempting atmosphere of our permissive society, which declares, everything is possible. Look to Maria Goretti, love, live, defend your chastity."

"Young people, don’t be afraid to carry the torch of your life, light and ideals into modern society."