The following are accounts of individuals who have received healing after encountering St. Maria Goretti.
In November of 2009 I went into the hospital to have my left knee replaced. During surgery I developed a staph infection. Laying in isolation I was informed that staph infections are very hard to get rid of and they were going to have to open up my leg, remove the new knee, and flush out the interior with antibiotics. I would be laid up for about 3 months at which time, if infection was cleared up, they would replace the knee and sew my leg back up. I was despondent and very ill. I called for my pastor to come to see me but he could not fit it into his schedule.
I was lying there in despair when another priest walked into my room. In his hand was a holy card of St. Maria Goretti. Father asked me what was going on and I explained the situation. He then told me Maria Goretti’s story of living in poverty, her faithfulness to God, her violent death and most amazingly, how she completely forgave the man who assaulted her. Father then suggested that he put Maria’s picture on my knee while he prayed for me. By the time he finished praying my depression was lifted and I felt my heart was healed. I just knew in my heart that everything would be all right and that Maria would take care of me. The worrying about being in the hospital for months was lifted as I was certain that that she was intervening and would not let that happen.
Father left me with St. Maria’s card and said he would be back. When the doctors came in the next day they said that–surprisingly–the staph infection was gone and I only had to stay a couple more days in the hospital. Since that time I have treasured that holy card of St. Maria, keeping on my dresser mirror to remind me of the healing of my staph infection. Recently, I put it into a plastic sleeve and began wearing it around my neck.
I believe that God uses other’s sufferings to help us learn invaluable lessons. St. Maria Goretti’s sufferings help us to have faith and to love unconditionally, forgiving those who cause us pain. I will keep her close to my heart and try to live up to her example.
Jackie Hoffman Lyons
I will never forget 2003. It was the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Boston. When that broke in the news it sent me into a spiral … because I too was sexually abused by a priest. Seeing everything unfold in the news brought back horrible memories. It also brought anger. Lots of anger. Rage swirled through me like adrenaline. I was mad at the abusing priests. I was made at their bishops. I was mad at the Church. I was furious against God.
The memories of the abuse I received at the hands of my abuser began to haunt me once again. Seeing the abuse scandal break out brought back his face and his actions. I was a mess. Not only could I not forgive, I had no desire to forgive. I had rage. And my rage made me run wild.
But something else happened in 2003, something that would change my life forever. I heard about St. Maria Goretti. Little did I know how much this young saint was going to affect my life! A wise priest, sensing my rage, told me about this eleven-year-old girl who loved Jesus so much she forgave her murderer even as he was killing her.
This made an incredible impression on me. How was it possible an illiterate, uneducated peasant girl could be so forgiving? It made me ask myself, will I ever be able to forgive?
Deep in my heart I knew that I needed to forgive. I also still loved the Church, and desired to remain within it. I understood that if I left then I would just be letting my abuser continue to hurt me.
I knew that without St. Maria Goretti’s help I would never be able to forgive. So I began praying to her, asking for a way to lose my anger and bitterness.
From that point on it was almost as if inside my heart I could see a little girl smiling at me and holding her hand out to me. She exuded a love so great that it made me trust her completely. I just knew that she would lead me to peace. Everything about her was peace!
It took two years, but I was able to come to a complete healing. I could forgive everyone who ever hurt me, and even my abuser. In fact, I have nothing but pity for him today. I’m happy to report I am no longer consumed by the anger I felt for so long. I am free!
But St. Maria did more than that. My healing was so great that she showed me a way to help others also find healing. I formed the Maria Goretti Network (http://mgoretti.org), a support network for the abused so that they too can find healing and grace. The Maria Goretti Network has been quietly giving wounded, hurting people a safe place to tell their stories for the past eleven years. For many it’s the first time they’ve talked about what happened to them and it’s the first time someone believed them.
Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning. This is what St. Maria Goretti does. She loved so strongly with such innocence and complete faith she gave the world an example of how to recover from the worst betrayal one could suffer . She knew the absolute love God has for each of us and demonstrated that love in the most horrific of circumstances.
Even Alessandro Serenelli, her murderer, became an example and help to me. He demonstrates how redemption is possible no matter how grave our sins.
Maria Goretti showed me how to totally love God. I’ve never been more satisfied or happy as I am now!