Although I have shared briefly in a homily here and there the miracle that St. Maria Goretti worked in my life, I feel called to share with you at length how Jesus healed me through this precious little saint!

First, let me start off by telling you a little about her.

St. Maria Goretti was born in Corinaldo, Italy on October 16th, 1890 to Luigi and Assunta Goretti. She was baptized the very next day on October 17th in the Church of St. Francis in Corinaldo. For reasons of work, in the year 1896, the Goretti family had to relocate to Colle Gianturco, and then three years later, once again the family had to relocate, this time to Le Ferriere di Conca, just outside of Nettuno, Italy. When Maria was only 9 years old, her father died from malaria. At that time, Maria took over more of a leadership role in the family, helping her mother raise the children and support the family through the work of her hands.

On June 16, 1901, Maria made her first Holy Communion. When the parish priest asked the children afterwards what they said to Jesus or what they asked of Him when they made their first Holy Communion, Maria responded, “I asked Him that I might receive Him again!”

On July 5, 1902, a friend of the family, Alessandro, twenty years old, who worked on the same farm, attempted to rape little Maria. Maria rebuked Alessandro, warning him that such a thing was a mortal sin and that he would go to Hell. Alessandro would not relent and Maria told him that she preferred to die than to submit. At that point, Alessandro took out a knife and stabbed Maria 14 times. Maria’s mother, Assunta, knew something was terribly wrong when she heard her precious little daughter weeping. Maria was taken to Nettuno to a hospital, and the following day, she passed. But, before she passed, she made it known that she forgave Alessandro and hoped to see him in Heaven too. She passed looking at an image of our heavenly Mother, Mary, and holding a Cross over her heart.

Alessandro was convicted and sent to prison for thirty years. He remained unrepentant and became more and more agitated. Then, one night, he dreamed he was in a garden with beautiful flowers. Maria appeared to him in the garden gathering lilies. She approached Alessandro and smiled. She handed him the lilies. Alessandro took them into his hands and at once they became like little flames that burned his hands. At that, Maria disappeared. Alessandro repented of his sin as he was given hope by the forgiveness that Maria showed him.

On December 25, 1934, Alessandro approached Assunta, the mother of Maria, got down on his knees and asked her forgiveness. Assunta replied, “If she forgave you, and God has forgiven you, I too forgive you.” On June 24, 1950, when little Maria was canonized, over a million faithful gathered for the celebration. Assunta and Alessandro  were also in attendance!

Now that I’ve told you a little about Maria, let me tell you about how Jesus healed me through her. During my novitiate as a Benedictine monk, I developed horrible back pain. The pain was so bad, I thought for sure that I might be sent home. After some x-rays and a doctor’s visit, it was determined that I had juvenile Osteochondrosis. There was something wrong with the bones in my spine that was causing them to rub together and break up into pieces. Boy, was I ever scared! The doctor prescribed some initial treatment: magnetic therapy, massages, and some exercises to strengthen my core muscles. After this initial therapy, I did have some relief, but was still in much pain. It was at this time that I made a pilgrimage, together with an Irish Seminarian, to the tomb of St. Maria Goretti. Before visiting the tomb, however, we stopped by Maria’s home and were able to pray a rosary in the place where Maria died. That was a very special experience for me. I felt very close to Jesus and very close to Maria. Once we made it back to the tomb, I knelt down before Maria’s tomb and prayed a simple prayer: little saint, I am a big sinner, please help me! At that very moment, Jesus healed me! The back pain was gone and I’ve never felt any pain in my back since!

I hope this story inspires you to develop a friendship with St. Maria Goretti and to grow in your love of Jesus! I am so excited that a relic from St. Maria Goretti will be among those enshrined in our Parish Church!

May the Lord open our ears so we may hear, awaken our brains so we may learn, and guide us in the direction He would have us serve. As we go about this week, remember to keep each other in prayer.

Fr. Michael