Controversial saints should they be emulated


There’s no need to emulate the face thing today unless you’re trying to chase off a suitor by having an “ugly” face. Even then, there are easier ways to do that. Just go pick up some interesting makeup skills.


This is a good question.

Mortification combats sin by attacking our love of pleasure, the source of all sin.

“It’s chief purpose is to safeguard us against sin in the present, and in the future, by weakening in us the love of pleasure, the source of our sins.” -Msgr. Adolphe Tanquery

I think the more we master ourselves and become less inclined to sin, the more is virtue allowed to grow in our souls. So mortification will permit virtue to grow stronger in our soul.

Virtue will eventually lead us to a greater love of God and neighbor and make us more pleasing in God sight. Our union with God will then grow stronger and closer.


Yikes, there’s also Dominic Loricatus.


I don’t see it as idolizing virginity to the point of allowing a rapist to murder you instead of just going along with it to save your life. Maria allowed herself to be killed rather than submit to a sinful alternative. She chose to die rather than commit a sin. She also said to Alessandro as he was attacking her, “Please don’t do this! If you do this you will go to hell!” So part of it was concern for Alessandro’s soul and eternal salvation. That’s the point of the story, along with the forgiveness aspect. Not that it’s better to die than lose one’s virginity.


I read that from a source. She disfigured her face with lye and blistered her face with pepper.


I love this response.


I personally do not to harm by body. Food without salt could be mortification.


Why would it be a sin for her though? I wish I understood the time frame she lived in


That’s not destroying the face though…destroy holds a different connotation. Perhaps that is just me.


I wonder what kind of lashes they were…


Sex outside of marriage is a sin. No, it’s not a sin to have sex when someone has a knife to your throat. But in Maria’s mind, she simply wasn’t going to commit a sin - the sin of sex outside of marriage- at any cost. No one is obligated to allow a rapist to kill them rather than submit. That was Maria’s choice. As I said in my other post, I think her sainthood is more so rooted in the fact that, along with generally detesting sin, she was looking out for Alessandro’s soul, since it would have been a mortal sin for him to have sex with her. And that concern for him extended even after she was in heaven.


I’ll also say that what makes a person a saint is not the specific deeds they did but rather their faith and selflessness. The less a person focuses on him/herself the closer one is to being a saint. Maria Goretti was focused on God and neighbor. She wanted to avoid anything that offended God and she was concerned about the spiritual well-being of another person. She focused very little on herself. Her focus was God first, others second, and very little on the self.


There are legends that grow up around some saints, like any important historical figure.

In the US school children used to be taught that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree when he was a kid, and when asked about it he chose to tell the truth instead of lie. That was a legend that grew to teach children a lesson.

There were tales that she rubbed pepper into he skin to cause it to be irritated and one that she rubbed lime on her hands - not on her face - and that caused burns that lasted for a month. Not a permanent maiming, just a form of mortification. She undertook many forms of mortification, we are always advised to ONLY do such things under spiritual direction.

Some of the more recent investigations about this saint say that she suffered from mental illness.

We are to look at the Saints as examples of virtue in spite of their failings, not because of them.


She chose to die to prevent her attacker from committing another sin. To be raped is not a sin.


I have a dear friend who is a stunning beauty. She was beautiful when we were young and in middle age she is still shockingly lovely. Her makeup just so is important, in fact, we have an agreement if she dies first that I will come and do her makeup because no one else would know how to do it just right.

One year she went without any makeup for all of Lent. It was the most spiritually powerful Lent she has ever had.


Look up putting lye on skin. I didn’t think her face penance was excessive until I saw what lye does to your skin. pepper ouch. It hurts just getting it on my fingers. I imagine her face feeling like it was burning.


Thank you for your post. Her story is still an uneasy one to read.


Thank you for that. I think she was mentally ill too. I guess I should overall admire her devoted focus on Christ. I would be upset if my spiritual director suggested or approved I hurt myself in that way. I understand contacting of the hair. Isn’t she drawing more attention to her face by having it blistered and burned by lye? maybe not the attraction type attention but this still. I’ll stick to 20th and 21st century saints.


Did she feel more invisible?


She felt embarrassed at first, to be out in public in a less than perfect way. She grew in humility over that 6 week time and now she sees that she needed to learn that lesson for the greater work God had in store for her. She now works tirelessly for the oppressed and those who have been abused. She stands on the front lines and takes more insults in one day than most people will have in a lifetime.

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