Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Saint Maria Goretti, virgin martyr

"The value of Christian virtue is so great, so overwhelming, so imperative, that it is worth more than life. Purity is not just a separate part of our being. It belongs to our existence as a whole, it is essential for our life. Purity brings us in harmony of body and soul." - Servant of God, Pope Paul VI

A martyr for purity at the beginning of the 20th century.  St. Maria Goretti is a lamp lighted for generations after her to find hope and help to follow Christ amidst a polluted world of impurity and hedonism.  For details on her life click here.
Art:  Source.  For me the icon expresses the spiritual maturity, nobility and sobriety of the martyr-saint much better than most holy card images.


  1. Thanks for the link. Some info I'd not read before.

  2. For long time before Maria was a martyr to purity, she was a loving daughter and sister, who did not spare herself in her efforts to help her family. It is hard for us to imagine how hard her life was after her father died. There was no social safety net or AFDC. Her mother had to do backbreaking work as a farm laborer. The family had little privacy, they shared living quarters with her mother's employer. Whose son became her murderer. The brutal facts of her death sometimes obscure her life, that she deserved to be a saint because of the way she lived, without losing her dignity in the face of hardscrabble poverty. Of course her chastity was important. But in the past this aspect of her life and death was held up to girls as if it was the only part of it that mattered. And I wonder what the "better dead than dishonored" emphasis said to victims of physical and sexual abuse.

  3. "And I wonder what the "better dead than dishonored" emphasis said to victims of physical and sexual abuse."

    Yes, are Catholic parents supposed to teach their little girls that it's more pleasing to God if they let the rapist kill them rather than rape them?

    Did Maria know he was going to kill her?

  4. As someone who had been sexually molested - I think of St. Maria as a friend and one who would understand better than anyone what happened. Her example doesn't guilt me - although I know what y'all mean. Her very real concern during the assault was that Alesandro would commit a mortal sin.

  5. I love Maria Goretti..she is a special patroness to me as a rape victim-- but I did struggle for a while with the surrender issue.

    I came to understand it as Terri said, she was more concerned with Alesandro's sin.

    Just a silly suggestion Terri, but it would be nice if someone painted a new portrait of her. Most of the pictures don't seem to do her justice even the one I posted today...Yours is the nicest one I've seen.


  6. Caroline - I've been thinking of it.

  7. Interestingly, I've heard she wasn't an especially pretty girl, but depictions of her in art and statue, she looks radiantly and innocently beautiful. I guess it's part of how sacred art displays a spiritual reality - what we see is only in the mirror darkly and all that. How many of us have known a beautiful person who was truly ugly, after all?


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