Cloud of Witnesses

Triumph of Chastity


St. Maria Goretti was a martyr who gave up her life rather than be violated.


Dying, St. Maria forgave the person who murdered her after he attempted to rape her. Stuggling against his lustful advance, she had told him “It’s a sin and you’ll go to hell if you do this!” She actually cared about his soul! During her last 20 hours of agony, she forgave and prayed for her attacker, Alessandro Serenelli.


Purity and Forgiveness versus lust and hate. St. Maria and Alessandro were two opposing forces.


He had been reading and looking at the porn of that era. Sexual crimes often have their beginnings in pornography. It blurred Alessandro’s mind that he failed to grasp reality. Raging anger grew every time St. Maria refused to give in to his self-centered sexual fantasies. We can see just how dangerous porn can be.


Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison.


God doesn’t wish the death of a sinner, but that they repent and live. Even the worst of the worst.

One night as Allessandro in on the brink of despair in prison… St Maria appears to him with 14 lilies—1 for each stab wound. The lily is a symbol of purity and chastity. This event marks the beginning of his total conversion. Repentant, Alessandro, after his release, goes straight to St. Maria’s mom’s house to beg for her forgiveness. The mother’s response? “Alessandro, Maria forgave you, Christ has forgiven you and why should I not also forgive? I forgive you, of course!”


On June 24, 1950, St. Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII. Both Alessandro and Maria’s mom, “Mamma Assunta” Goretti were in attendance.


St. Maria Goretti’s example is one we need more than ever. The message of chastity must be heard and imitated that the dignity of human sexuality may be respected. For anyone struggling with sexual sins–remember that with the Lord there is Mercy.


Here is a prayer followed by a hopeful warning:


Prayer to St. Maria Goretti


Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God’s grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.


Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!



Before he died, Alessandro wrote:


“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. And I did the same. I was not worried.


“There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.


“When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.


“If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.


“Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.


“I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life.”


Signature, Alessandro Serenelli


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