Today the Church honors a very young saint. She gave her life in order to protect her chastity. The following was written by Pope Pius XII on Saint Maria Goretti.
"Our Saint was a valiant girl. She knew, she understood, and that is why she preferred to die. Her twelfth year was not completed when she fell martyred. Yet, what discernment, what prudence, what energy she displayed! Though but a girl, conscious of danger, she watched night and day in defense of her honor, and in persevering prayer recommended the lily of her purity to the Virgin of virgins. No! Hers was not a small, weak soul. She is a heroine who in the clutch of a murderer and under the knife of an assassin thought not of her suffering but resolutely repelled sin with horror...The following is what Alexander, Maria's murderer wrote on the floor of his cell after Maria appeared to him.
"Thus the cry of our Savior rises to our lips: 'Woe to the world because of scandals!' (Matt. 18-7). Woe to those guilty perverters-authors of corrupt novels, newspapers, periodicals, theaters, films, indecent styles! Woe to those young men who, with artful and thoughtless cruelty, introduce deadly infection into a virgin heart! Woe to those fathers and mothers lacking in energy and prudence, who cede to the caprices of their children and surrender that paternal authority written on the brow of man and wife as a reelection of the divine Majesty. Woe also to that multitude of Christians in name only, who could take a stand and would see legions of upright and virtuous followers mass behind them ready to battle scandal by every means! Legal justice punishes the slayer of a child, and it has duty to do so. But what human legislation could or would dare, if it chose to do so, punish those who furnished the weapon to the slayer's hand, those who encouraged him therein, or were indifferent, or even with indulgent smile left him be? And yet they are really the more guilty. The terrible justice of God weighs heavily o them, those willful perverters or indolent accomplices!"
"I am deeply sorry for what has happened. I have taken the life of an innocent girl whose one aim was to save her purity, shedding her blood rather than give in to my sinful desires. I publicly retract the evil I have done and beg pardon of God and of the stricken family. One hope encourages me-- that I also may one dayAlexander Serenelli, November 10, 1910
obtain God's pardon as so many others have."
From In Garments All Red: The Life Story of St. Maria Goretti, by Godfrey Poage, C.P.