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Saint Maria Goretti: The Legacy of Forgiveness

Le Ferriere: A Village with a Dramatic Past

Le Ferriere, a small Italian village near the city of Nettuno, located about 40 miles southwest of Rome, is known for its significant historical and religious heritage. This village is home to the Goretti and Serenelli families, whose intertwined fates have turned a once-abandoned house into a pilgrimage site attracting thousands of visitors, including notable guests.

The Guardian of the Goretti House

Today, the house is watched over by Sister Maria, an 80-year-old Passionist Sister, who keeps the legacy of Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli alive.

Sister Maria, Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ:
"Historically, it is remembered that the very rich countess had a certain tenderness towards the Goretti family and for this reason, she opened this door which is the main entrance to welcome the two families. The Gorettis took this side of the house, and the Serenellis behind me."

A Tale of Poverty and Faith

Poverty forced the Goretti and Serenelli families to share one roof. Maria, tenderly called Marietta, was one of seven Goretti children. After losing their father when Marietta was nine, she took on household duties while her mother and siblings worked in the fields. Despite their hardships, the Goretti family remained deeply faithful.

Sister Maria:
"Assunta, although illiterate, was able to transmit the healthy principles of life."

In contrast, Alessandro Serenelli, though literate, grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and mentally ill siblings. His affection for 11-year-old Marietta soon turned into a dangerous obsession.

The Tragic Incident

On July 5th, 1902, Alessandro's obsession culminated in a violent attack on Marietta, stabbing her fourteen times with a labor tool when she resisted his advances.

Sister Maria:
"That day, Alessandro had chosen his weapon. It was an awl. A well-defined and deliberate action. He leaves work, climbs these stairs, and finds Marietta. She was struck here."

Marietta was taken to a hospital in Nettuno, where she underwent surgery without anesthesia. Before her death on July 6th, 1902, she forgave Alessandro, a gesture that would change many lives.

The Miracle of Forgiveness

Father Antonio Coppola, Basilica of Our Lady of Graces and Saint Maria Goretti:
"Maria Goretti, on her deathbed, to the question of the confessor, replied: - Heartfelt forgiveness. And, I want him with me in paradise."

Marietta's forgiveness led to Alessandro's conversion. After serving his sentence, he sought forgiveness from the Goretti family and dedicated his life to prayer in a Capuchin Convent.

A Legacy of Mercy

Pope Francis, during the "Year of Mercy," highlighted Maria Goretti as the Saint of forgiveness. He emphasized that true pilgrims to Nettuno should be inspired by her capacity to forgive.

Father Antonio Coppola:
"Those who visit the 'Tent of Forgiveness' and the 'House of Martyrdom' must let themselves be infected by this ability of Maria Goretti to forgive."

Maria Goretti was canonized in 1950, and this year, Nettuno celebrates 90 years since Alessandro Serenelli's liberation from imprisonment, honoring Marietta’s heroic forgiveness and Alessandro’s redemption.


Author Name

Alexey Gotovskiy has worked at the EWTN Vatican Bureau as a journalist, TV Producer & Manager for the last 7 years. He was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in Russia, was raised in Kazakhstan, and received his graduate level education in Church Communications at the Roman Pontifical University of Holy Cross. He produced the EWTN Vatican Bureau’s flagship program “VATICANO” for 5 years and over 200 episodes covering the Universal Church and Vatican. He was on the papal flight representing EWTN on Pope Francis’ historic trip to Iraq. He speaks 6 languages and is passionate about the former Soviet world and building a bridge between the West and East.

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