Explaining St. Maria Goretti


#1

I have a friend who is an atheist. When I decided to become a catechumen and join the Church, she didn’t speak to me for a few weeks. However, we are now on speaking terms again. I’m having issues though, in that she questions many things about the Church and I obviously don’t have all the answers. Earlier today, we had quite a heated discussion about St. Maria Goretti.

Just a bit of background before I continue. I was raped when I was a little girl, by a grown man. My friend knows about this.

She happened to read about St. Maria Goretti this past week and was telling me she thinks the whole story of St. Maria Goretti is a load of BS made up by the Church. She had many objections to the story, but the one that stands out to me is, she doesn’t understand how Maria was able to fight off her rapist.

She feels Maria’s would-be rapist simply chose not to rape her. That he could have overtaken her if he liked… and it was, therefore, no virtue on her part to “resist”. If she had the ability to resist and succeed, then it wasn’t really rape.

She also commented that having St. Maria Goretti as the patron saint of girls who’ve been raped is a slap in the face. She feels I should be insulted by this. Because, she was able to resist being raped, which means (in her opinion), that indirectly the Church is implying that being raped is a child’s own fault, i.e., according to the Catholic Church, I personally am not as virtuous as St. Maria Goretti because I “gave in” to my rapist…

I’m not saying I believe what my friend is saying. I want to understand the Church’s teaching on this. But… I do have to admit I am stumped by her argument. I mean, from my personal experience… I personally fought my rapist, I screamed and punched him and so on, but it was to no avail as he was bigger and stronger than me. I really had no choice and could not fight him off…

I don’t know what to say to her about this. I am at a loss. Maybe I need to read a little more in depth about St. Maria Goretti’s story as I’ve only read a very short account of it. In any event I’d be grateful for anyone’s insight or thoughts.


#2

That’s ridiculous! If you have a catechism, look up “rape” in the index and show her the condemnations it contains. I don’t have it in front of me, but the Church very clearly does not place the blame on the victim. Anyone who says otherwise reveals that they simply are grabbing for anything they can to throw at the Church, whether or not it’s true.


#3

Lured by the passions of his day and nurturing the dark side of his soul with impious reading and thoughts, Alessandro Serenelli had been a thorn in lovely Maria’s side. He propositioned her on several occasions and harassed her with impure suggestions. On July 5, 1902, he would be denied no longer. As she once again rebuffed his sexual advance, shouting, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”, Alexander lunged to the deed, stabbing Maria 14 times.

Doctors in Nettuno tried to save Maria’s life to no avail. After 20 painful hours of suffering during which she forgave and prayed for Alessandro, Maria entered Heaven fortified with the Last Sacraments. Her last earthly gaze rested upon a picture of the Blessed Mother. It was July 6, 1902.

Almost fifty years later on June 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII stood on the steps of St. Peter’s in Rome and pronounced Maria Goretti a Saint and Martyr of the Universal Church to half a million people. He proposed her as the Patroness of Modern Youth and set July 6th as her feast Day. Her mother, and her murderer, attended the canonization ceremony together.

This was the triumph of the little girl who loved God and hated sin.

Well lets see, he probably could have overcome her, but instead he stabbed her 14 times.
As it says above, after 20 hours of suffering, during which she forgave and prayed for him…
Sounds like your friend doesn’t know the whole story either.

mariagoretti.org/mariabio.htm

In addition, I’ve seen a movie about her life and they lived in the same house and were
within hearing of her screams by those who were working in the fields, he knew that, and that is why, in the past he would stop. It wasn’t like she was just able to fight him off and he gave up or anything. He kept it up all the time until the day he stabbed her nearly to death, and she did die as a result of that. She was still only 11, not even 12 yet. She led a very holy life, her father had died and she became even holier after his death. No doubt praying all the time and loving Jesus and the Church.

In no way, shape or form is the Church blaming you or anyone else that gets raped. Your friend sounds like she’s trying to pull you away from the Church. Pray for her.


#4

Hi Judith-

Congratulations on your journey home! I was just received into the Church this past Easter Vigil, so I’m only a baby Catholic, but it took a couple years of studying, praying, and overcoming my misconceptions about the Church (and of course a ton of grace!) to get me there!

St. Maria Goretti was one of the first saints I learned about and truly came to love. The first thing I would suggest for you to do is to pray for her intercession regarding your friend’s attitude toward her and your own questions about her patronage.

Your friend says that her whole story is a “load of BS made up by the Church”? Perhaps you can direct her to the process of canonization, which takes many, many years and requires a lot of investigation, testimony from people who knew the saint, etc. St. Maria Goretti came from a small town in Italy, and there were plenty of people who knew her who were still alive in 1950 (when she was canonized) who could vouch for her story. Even the man that killed her was there.

Secondly, your friend says that her aggressor, Alessandro, “chose not to rape her.” In a sense that’s true, but the fact is he chose to kill her instead of rape her. When she was given the choice between rape and death, she chose death. That absolutely does NOT mean that someone who “chooses” rape over being killed means that person is “giving in” to rape. If Maria had “allowed him” to rape her by not putting up a fight when she saw his knife, the church would not have said she was guilty of any kind of sin whatsoever, or that the rape was her fault. In order to commit a sin, one must be completely free to choose the sin and not under compulsion, and obviously Maria (or anyone in a similar situation) would not have been choosing to sin freely.

Anyway, I’ll say a prayer for this situation for you. God bless.

Erica

P.S.- I have a small book on Maria Goretti called “St. Maria Goretti: In Garments All Red” that I got off Amazon for a few bucks. If you’d like, I’ll send it to you. Just send me a private message.


#5

That same site also has Alessandro’s bio, the man who tried to rape her and who had stabbed her. Here is some of that…

Immediately after his brutal assault on young Maria Goretti, Alessandro was imprisoned…

After six years of prison, he was near the brink of despair. Then one night, Maria appeared
to him in his cell. She smiled at Alessandro and was surrounded by lilies, the flower symbolic of purity.

From that moment, peace invaded Alessandro’s heart, and he began to live a constructive life…

After serving his sentence, Alessandro took up residence at a Capuchin monastery, working in the garden as a tertiary. He asked pardon of Maria’s mother and accompanied her to Christmas Mass in the parish church where he spoke before the hushed congregation, acknowledging his sin and asking God’s forgiveness and the pardon of the community…

Alessandro Serenelli died on May 6th, 1970 in the Capuchin convent of Macerata. He left the following testimony, dated May 5, 1961, as his spiritual legacy:

"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…

you can read it all here:

mariagoretti.org/alessandrobio.htm

I’m sure it was the prayers of that little Saint and that whole community, that helped him
trememdously - to know that God loves him and forgave him. He became a repentant man who lived his life completely differently after he admitted his own fault and repented and turned away from sin.


#6

Susan, the Church definitely does not teach that it’s the fault of the victim :hug1: if a rape happens, the rapist is entirely to blame. Especially if the victim is a child. (we know how dear children are to God’s heart)

Although St Maria Goretti was not raped, she was stabbed by the rapist. If he had not killed her, he would have raped her instead. If she could truly fight him off, she would have lived and ran away. So I think your friend is incorrect here.

God bless you, and congratulations on your conversion to Catholicism :slight_smile:


#7

Thanks so much everyone. This has been very, very helpful! I really didn’t know enough about St. Maria Goretti, having read everything that’s been written, it makes more sense. I will read more about her now on my own now as well.

Sorry I don’t want to comment any further… but after posting I felt triggered to my own rape and it was difficult. I’ve been in therapy but even so you never quite get over that sort of experience. At least, I haven’t yet. I appreciate the suggestion to pray for my friend, I think I will continue to do that as I agree, she would be very happy if I left the Church. In a way that makes me angry, but on the other hand, best to pray for her.

[quote=Erica Rae]P.S.- I have a small book on Maria Goretti called “St. Maria Goretti: In Garments All Red” that I got off Amazon for a few bucks. If you’d like, I’ll send it to you. Just send me a private message.
[/quote]

Thanks very much Erica, but I don’t live in the USA so I think it would be expensive for you to send it to me. I really appreciate the offer though, and I have the title, so I will see if I can get it here. Thanks again!


#8

Dear Susan,

For your friend to combine falsehoods about Maria Goretti along with rubbing salt in the wound from your childhood as a way to persuade you to her way of thinking is both mean-spirited and cruel. I agree you should pray for her, but I think it would be prudent to break off the friendship. She has an agenda to try to undermine your faith using some very hurtful tactics.

The burden of proof is on HER to provide the evidence to back up her claims, not on you to try to refute her ridiculous accusations. I don’t think it matters if you find out all the facts to argue with this woman; she has made up her mind that the Church has fabricated the whole story.

I think one thing you might find helpful in the St. Maria Goretti story is her forgiving her attacker. A lot of healing comes through forgiving, especially when we forgive those who have hurt us the most.


#9

Thank you so much for saying this… its pretty much what I’ve been thinking, but I was uncertain where to draw the line between being charitable to her and taking care of myself. I do care about her and I’m glad she’s talking to me again, but I’m also vulnerable in this area and she knows it. Aside from that, she’s been challenging other things, even criticizing me for calling my parish priest “Father”. She thinks I should just call him “Mister” or nothing at all… everytime I mention him she makes a rude comment of some kind. Even when I said that he had helped me get to the hospital when I had a kidney stone attack (I live close to the rectory and I called him), she still criticized the situation. I am new to this city also, and some people from the parish gave me furniture and baking, not because I am poor (I’m not), but just to be kind, and when I told her about it she said basically why would I want some gross used furniture. Really she’s very negative about anything to do with the church at all and yes its really selfish of her… I find myself feeling more angry and upset since I am speaking with her again, so maybe I do need to break it off or at least back off a bit.

[quote=beckycmarie]I think one thing you might find helpful in the St. Maria Goretti story is her forgiving her attacker. A lot of healing comes through forgiving, especially when we forgive those who have hurt us the most.
[/quote]

Yes, the more I’m reading about the story, I am seeing that its the main point of it. I think I am going to pray for her intercession and help in this area.


#10

#11

Judith, the Jesus who had the power to soften the heart of and convert the murderer of St. Maria Goretti is the same Jesus who has the power to soften the heart of and convert your friend. Yes, you may have to back off or break it off for your own spiritual health, but continue to pray fervently for her. Miracles can and do happen.


#12

St. Maria Goretti did not physically fight off her rapist. She warned him, “This is a mortal sin!” He kept doing what he was trying to do, so she said, “I would rather die than this.” So he decided to knife her instead.

She didn’t physically overcome him, or at least that’s not how I read the story. He just was incensed by her statement that she’d rather die, so he decided to kill her.


#13

:frowning: that is very sad. I hope and pray that God would soften your friend’s heart. I agree with Beckycmarie, the burden of proof is on her, and it is very mean spirited what she is doing.

that was my impression also.


#14

Does your friend know that Maria was brutally beaten by her rapist because she refused to have sex with him? That’s the reason why Maria is a saint. Because she would have rathered death instead of giving up her virginity.


#15

Thanks again to all who responded here, I appreciate it and I’m understanding the whole story of St. Maria Goretti much better. I am embracing her as a patron saint! :slight_smile: You are welcome to continue to make comments but I am stepping back a bit from the thread, at least for a while, as I’m finding the content a bit too triggering. Thanks again to all.


#16

Hi,

First and formost hugs

I pray to ask St. Maria Goretti to help me regain my baptismal purity.

Simple as that.

That is what all of us can pray for to make sure we renew our eyes and souls to see the world as we where when we were children.

I know this is not quite what your threads subject was about. But, I wanted to share with you something else St. Maria Goretti helps people with.

I hope your friend comes around to understand your view.

– Cadian :knight1:


#17

I would have probably preferred to die too, but I wasn’t given the option. :frowning:


#18

Yeah, but...

When people talk about "purity" in regards to St. Goretti, they're talking about mere physical virginity, regardless of the actual morality of the woman involved. I confess, after return about four years ago to Catholicism, I'm considering leaving, solely because of the existence of so-called "martyrs to purity[sic.]" There is no way on earth that any woman's life is worth less than her "virginity," and saluting women (or, in the case of Goretti, deliberatedly misrepresenting her story) who appear to have "chosen" to be murdered rather than raped is sick, misogynist and sociopathic. Why on earth would women-haters like "The Goretti Group," which claims to be about promoting "purity" (i.e. discouraging sex outside of marriage) feel they have any special connection with Goretti. There's NOTHING in Goretti's story that has ANYTHING to do with sex, as far as SHE is concerned. She did NOT choose to die, and she sure as hell did not "choose" to be murdered rather than raped. And, yet, still, she's saluted by sick, disgusting people as someone who choose to die rather than be made "impure," as if any rape victim could be made "impure" by someone else's sin.

I have no quarrel with Goretti. I have plenty with the majority of her sick, hateful devotees, and especially with the Church for not eradicating the hymen cult, and getting rid of the sick idea of "Martyrs to Purity [sic.]" The only message the Church is sending raped women is "You should have died."


#19

[quote="kbrigan, post:18, topic:165596"]
Yeah, but...

When people talk about "purity" in regards to St. Goretti, they're talking about mere physical virginity, regardless of the actual morality of the woman involved. I confess, after return about four years ago to Catholicism, I'm considering leaving, solely because of the existence of so-called "martyrs to purity[sic.]" There is no way on earth that any woman's life is worth less than her "virginity," and saluting women (or, in the case of Goretti, deliberatedly misrepresenting her story) who appear to have "chosen" to be murdered rather than raped is sick, misogynist and sociopathic. Why on earth would women-haters like "The Goretti Group," which claims to be about promoting "purity" (i.e. discouraging sex outside of marriage) feel they have any special connection with Goretti. There's NOTHING in Goretti's story that has ANYTHING to do with sex, as far as SHE is concerned. She did NOT choose to die, and she sure as hell did not "choose" to be murdered rather than raped. And, yet, still, she's saluted by sick, disgusting people as someone who choose to die rather than be made "impure," as if any rape victim could be made "impure" by someone else's sin.

I have no quarrel with Goretti. I have plenty with the majority of her sick, hateful devotees, and especially with the Church for not eradicating the hymen cult, and getting rid of the sick idea of "Martyrs to Purity [sic.]" The only message the Church is sending raped women is "You should have died."

[/quote]

This is an old thread.

Maria's story isn't about rape or 'preserving her virginity'. Allesandro was a young man who lived in the same building on the farm where Maria's family lived. He became very involved with pornography. He wanted to experiment with sex with Maria and wanted her to agree to that. She wouldn't agree because she knew it was sinful. She didn't want to sin and also didn't want him to sin. Her concern wasn't just for herself.

He didn't want to rape her; he wanted her participation. He gave her an ultimatum but she still refused. When the adults were in the fields and Maria was with the sleeping baby in the house he gave her one last chance to consent to having sex with him but still she refused. She wouldn't agree to sin with him. In his anger, instead of raping her, he struck her with a knife. Actually, as far as I know he didn't attempt to rape her.

The reason she is a saint is that she was faithful to God and wouldn't participate in Allesandro's sin, not because she resisted rape. There would have been no sin if she had given in to rape and the church does not say a woman must fight if she is threatened with rape. This was a Jewish law, but is not a Christian requirement.

Maria's story is certainly not about holding on to 'mere physical virginity'. She wouldn't have 'become impure' by being raped.

Maria showed heroic virtue because she suffered greatly in the hospital after the stabbing but forgave her murderer from her heart.

A little research would have given you correct information about Maria Goretti. Why are you so angry about a people honoring a girl who refused to agree to sin? This whole thing has nothing to do with rape.


#20

Watch the movie on St. Maria Goretti Documentary on Youtube
youtube.com/watch?v=z5HJ5IYcic8

Read her life
mariagoretti.org/mariabio.htm
catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=78
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Goretti
saints.sqpn.com/saint-maria-goretti/

I would suggest you not to start an argument with an unbeliever, it can destroy your weak faith. We are weak


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