For awhile, an 11-year-old girl named Maria repeatedly rejected the sexual advances of a man who worked on her family’s farm. The man repeatedly refused to respect her rejection. And there came a day — July 5, a hundred and nine years ago — on which the man wouldn’t take no for answer. He tried to rape Maria.
Maria shouted for him to stop, and not so she’d be protected from him, but so he’d be protected from the sin he’d commit in rape. Angry at her response, he stabbed her fourteen times. On July 6, her wounds would prove fatal but before she died, she spent a day praying for the man, saying she forgives him and hoping she’d someday see him in heaven. Then, she died.
The man spent about thirty years in prison. While there, Maria appeared to him to tell him she forgives him. When he was released from prison, he visited Maria’s mother’s house. When she answered the door, he asked for her forgiveness. She said she’d already forgiven him.
This is where healing starts.
Several years later, in 1950, the man and Maria’s mother went to Rome to attend a ceremony together the day Pope Pius XXI canonized her. Ever since, she has been St. Maria Goretti. Today (July 6) is her feast day.