Thursday, July 06, 2017

"At the age of 20, I committed a crime of passion." ~ The confession of Alessandro Serenelli

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July 6 is the feast day of Saint Maria Goretti, a girl of 11 who was brutally murdered because she refused to submit to the sexual advances of Alessandro Serenelli, age 20. Having been stabbed 14 times, Maria survived another day while surgeons tried in vain to save her. During this time, she forgave her attacker and expressed hope that he would be with her someday in heaven. Maria died of her wounds on July 6, 1902.

Nearly 60 years later, Alessandro Serenelli wrote an amazing letter. It was found in a sealed envelope after his death, and reads as follows:
I am now almost 80 years old. I am close to the end of my days.
Looking back at my past, I recognize that in my early youth I followed a false road—an evil path that led to my ruin.  
Through the content of printed magazines, immoral shows, and bad examples in the media, I saw the majority of the young people of my day following evil without even thinking twice. Unworried, I did the same thing.
There were faithful and practicing Christian believers around me, but I paid no attention to them. I was blinded by a brute impulse that pushed me down the wrong way of living.  At the age of 20, I committed a crime of passion, the memory of which still horrifies me today. Maria Goretti, now a saint, was my good angel whom God placed in my path to save me. Her words both of rebuke and forgiveness are still imprinted in my heart. She prayed for me, interceding for her killer. Thirty years in prison followed.
The only known photo of
Maria Goretti.
If I had not been a minor in Italian law I would have been sentenced to life in prison. Nevertheless, I accepted the sentence I received as something I deserved. 
Resigned, I atoned for my sin. Little Maria was truly my light, my protectress. With her help, I served those 27 years in prison well. When society accepted me back among its members, I tried to live honestly. With angelic charity, the sons of St. Francis, the minor Capuchins of the Marches, welcomed me among them not as a servant, but as a brother. I have lived with them for 24 years. Now I look serenely to the time in which I will be admitted to the vision of God, to embrace my dear ones once again, and to be close to my guardian angel, Maria Goretti, and her dear mother, Assunta.
May all who read this letter of mine desire to follow the blessed teaching of avoiding evil and following the good. May all believe with the faith of little children that religion with its precepts is not something one can do without. Rather, it is true comfort, and the only sure way in all of life’s circumstances—even in the most painful. 
Peace and all good. 
Alessandro Serenelli
Macerata, Italy 5 May 1961 
We were fortunate enough to have the relics of St. Maria Goretti at our parish a few years ago, thanks to the Pilgrimage of Mercy Tour of the Major Relics. Their website is an excellent source of information about Saint Maria, as well as Alessandro Serenelli.

The major relics of St. Maria Goretti.

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