a homily by Pope Pius XII
I have no fear, for You are with
t is well known
how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without
warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying
her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her
Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ:
Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear
so long as Your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary;
it helps me and gives me guidance. With splendid courage she surrendered herself to
God and His grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity.
life of this simple girlI shall concern myself only with highlightswe can
see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect.
Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage,
and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that,
when put to the test, Gods grace will support them and they will come
through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished.
From Marias story carefree
children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led
astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but
also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral
perfection, however difficult and hazardous that course may prove. With
determination and Gods help all of us can attain that goal by persistent
effort and prayer.
Not all of us are expected to
die a martyrs death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian
virtue. This demands strength of character though it may not match that of
this innocent girl. Still, a constant, persistent, and relentless effort
is asked of us right up to the moment of our death. This may be conceived
as a slow, steady martyrdom which Christ urged upon us when He said: The
kingdom of heaven is set upon and laid waste by violent
So let us all, with Gods
grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint
Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all
of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example
of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.
Pope Pius XII
Office of Readings, July 6:
Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr