Last weekend in Michigan, we saw the relics of St. Maria Goretti and we were moved to tears to be in the presence of the body of a saint. Words can’t describe the emotions that come when one is near the body that used to house a soul that is now with our father in heaven. St. Maria Goretti is just a sweet sweet person that will help you if you seek her assistance with our dear lord.
Below is a great post from the Catholic Gentlemen that contains a letter from Alessandro Serenelli the man that murdered St. Maria in her own kitchen when she refused his sexual advances. The letter is very powerful. Please note the reference to pornography and the role it played in leading Alessandro to murder St. Maria. Please do not let your children watch porn! Be mindful of their souls!
Choose the Right Path: A Message From a Repentant Murderer
by Sam Guzman (aka The Catholic Gentlemen)
Yesterday, I had the privilege of venerating the first class relics of St. Maria Goretti, the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church. While the time with her relics was brief due to the crowds, it was still a powerful experience to see the body of this young girl who had more virtue at the age of 12 than most of us will ever have.
If you don’t know St. Maria’s story, she was a young Italian girl born in October of 1890. She lost her father at a young age and had to mature quickly to help take care of her siblings while her mother earned a living. Due to their extreme poverty, the Goretti family had to move in with another family, the Sarenelli’s.
While Maria was only 12 at the time, Alessandro Sarenelli, who was 22, began making sexual advances toward Maria, threatening her if she told anyone. On July 5, 1902, while the rest of the family was away, Alessandro approached Maria with a 10 inch knife, threatening to kill her if she did not do what he said. He intended to rape her, and it came out later that he had tried twice before. Maria refused and began to fight him off. In a rage, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times. Eventually, Maria died from her wounds, but not before completely forgiving her attacker and stating that she wanted him to be with her in heaven.
A Repentant Killer
While Maria’s short life was a beautiful testimony to God’s grace, what struck me especially was the conversion of her killer, Alessandro Sarenelli. His story, too, is a witness to the power of conversion, and that no one is beyond hope.
Six years into his 30 year prison sentence, Alessandro was at the brink of despair. How he could he go on knowing what he had done, and knowing the best years of his life would be spent rotting in prison? Then, something extraordinary happened. Maria appeared to him holding a bouquet of lilies and lovingly handed them to Alessandro one by one. This gesture of forgiveness from the girl he murdered transformed Alessandro completely. For the first time since the crime, he was truly repentant. As he later said, “Maria’s forgiveness saved me.”
Once freed from prison, Alessandro began a life of penance. He met with Maria’s mother and begged her forgiveness. He also accompanied Mrs. Serenelli to Christmas Mass in the parish church where he spoke before the stunned congregation, acknowledging his sin and asking God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the community. He eventually joined the Capuchin Franciscans as a lay brother, working as a gardener and general laborer. In 1970, he died peacefully in Christ, loved by all who knew him.
After his death, the Franciscans found a spiritual testament among his belongings, written in the form of an open letter to the world. Here is what the one-time murderer and attempted rapist wanted to say to the world—and to you.
I’m nearly 80 years old. I’m about to depart.
Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.
My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.
There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.
When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.
If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.
Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.
I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life.
Signature, Alessandro Serenelli