The nation-wide tour of the relics of the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church, St. Maria Goretti, is continuing to draw thousands of visitors during its Pilgrimage of Mercy.
This is the first time the relics of St. Maria Goretti have come to the US and only the second time they’ve left Italy.
Eleven-year-old Maria Goretti died July 6, 1902, after being stabbed 14 times in an attempted rape. Her last words on her deathbed were of mercy towards her 20-year-old attacker: “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in Heaven forever.”
Six years into his 30-year sentence, Serenelli famously reported receiving an apparition of his victim within his prison cell. That vision began his dramatic transformation from a violent and ruthless killer to that of a gentle and renewed soul intent on spreading devotion to God and his saintly victim. In his words, “Maria’s forgiveness saved me.”
This visit of the major relics of St. Maria Goretti is an effort on the part of the Vatican Congregation of Saints’ Causes, her Pontifical Basilica, and Treasures of the Church, to prepare and catechize the United States for the great celebration of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy that Pope Francis announced will begin Dec. 8.
The tour has included stops at 25 Catholic dioceses spanning 16 states, and by the end, will have included the Archdioceses of New York, Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Oklahoma City.
Parishes, schools, and prisons are hosting the relic tour. The schedule for the expositions that are open to the general public can be found on the official tour web site at www.MariaGoretti.com.
St. Maria’s remains are inside a glass-sided casket. Inside the casket is a wax statue containing her skeletal remains. St. Maria’s body is not incorrupt, and none of the sacred remains are visible. However, the skeleton is complete, save for small amounts of bone that have been placed in reliquaries and her right arm which was donated by her mother to the Church of St. Nicholas (now known as the Sanctuary of St. Maria Goretti) in her birth town of Corinaldo, as it was with her right arm that Maria defended her purity and prevented Alessandro Serenelli from raping her.
See www.MariaGoretti.com for an up-to-date listing of exposition times and locations. Admission is free.