Maria was born on October 16, 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona Province in Italy, her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When he died of malaria, Maria's mother had to struggle to feed her children. Maria's mother, brothers, and sisters worked in the fields while she cooked, sewed, kept the house clean, and watched her youngest sister Teresa. Though the family's circumstances were extremely difficult, they were very close and loved God.
When Maria was 12, an 18-year-old brother or neighbor (it is unclear which) attempted to rape her. Maria fought back and he ended up stabbing her 14 times. Although she made it through surgery, the doctor knew that she wouldn't survive. The next day, Maria forgave Alessandro and said she wanted to see him in Heaven with her. She died that day while looking upon an image of the Virgin Mary and holding a cross to her chest.
Shortly after Maria's family discovered her, Alessandro was captured, tried and was sentenced to thirty years. He remained unrepentant for his actions until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him lilies, which immediately burned in his hands. When he woke, he was a changed man who repented his crime and began living a reformed life. When he was released 27-years-later, he went directly to Maria's mother and begged her forgiveness, which she gave, saying, "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?"
One of our homes in the Children, Family and Community Services ministry in Edmonton chose St. Maria Goretti as their patron Saint and renamed their home in her honour.