Benedict XVI Calls Youth to Maria Goretti's Heroism

VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2010 ( Even the very young can show strength and courage against evil, Benedict XVI today reminded youth, urging them to do the same.

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The Pope made this appeal when he gave his traditional greeting to youth, the sick and newlyweds at the end of today’s general audience.

He pointed to the example of St. Maria Goretti, whose feast day was Tuesday.

The Holy Father described her as «a girl who, though very young, was able to demonstrate strength and courage against evil.»

«I invoke her for you, dear young people,» he said, «so that she will help you to always choose the good, even when it is costly.»

He made the same invocation for the sick, «so that she will sustain you in enduring your daily sufferings,» and for newlyweds «so that your love will always be faithful and filled with mutual respect.»

Maria Goretti (1890-1902) was killed when she was 11 years old because she defended her chastity from the advances of a 20-year-old neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli.

Serenelli himself affirmed that the girl preferred a barbarous death — he stabbed her 14 times — rather than losing her purity.

Her assassin spent 15 years in prison, where he had a conversion, aided by the intercession of his young victim. After completing his sentence, he retreated to a monastery of Friars Minor.

At Maria Goretti’s canonization, Serenelli was present in St. Peter’s, as was the saint’s mother, Assunta.

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