Hundreds of devotees jammed into St. Maria Goretti Parish on Friday to catch a glimpse of the church’s namesake. The petite body of St. Goretti had arrived at the Scarborough church from her shrine in Nettuno, Italy on Thursday, marking the first time the complete remains of a contemporary saint have come to Toronto from overseas. “Many visitors have been bursting into tears,” said Father Edwin Galea, the church’s pastor. Round-the-clock vigils for the patron saint of young women, purity and rape victims will be held until she leaves Sunday morning. National Post”˜s Alex Nino Gheciu explains.
Q: What is her story?
A: Maria Goretti’s life came to a tragic end 110 years ago in a small Italian village. Her neighbour, Alessandro Serenelli, attempted to rape the 11-year-old before stabbing her 14 times. She didn’t die immediately, which gave her the opportunity to forgive 20-year-old Serenelli while on her deathbed. She was named a saint in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, making her the youngest officially canonized saint in the history of the Catholic church, according to Father Galea. Her canonization ceremony was attended by both her mother and her murderer, who said he was forgiven by St. Goretti in a dream.