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Saint Maria Goretti calls us to be 'witnesses of forgiveness'


The body of Saint Maria Goretti is venerated at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston in October 2015. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

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Vatican City, Jul 6, 2016 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis has marked the feast of the young martyr St. Maria Goretti by calling the faithful to follow her example and be forgiving to those who wrong them.

The memory of Maria Goretti's example should “encourage you to commit yourselves, like the Saint you venerate, to being witnesses of forgiveness,” the Pope wrote in a letter for the July 6 feast of the  Italian who is known for having forgiven her attacker.

The June 20 letter was addressed to Bishops Mariano Crociata of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno and Marcello Semeraro of Albano, the dioceses of the regions where Maria Goretti – who is even now affectionately known as “Marietta” – lived  and died.

The young saint, who was killed at age 11 while resisting a rape, is renowned both as a martyr for chastity and as a witness of forgiveness: as Maria lay dying from wounds inflicted by her would-be rapist, Alessandro Serenelli, she prayed for his conversion.

Lauding Maria Goretti's ability to forgive her attacker as she lay dying, Francis quoted the 2015 Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy, saying: “At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart.”

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