Maria Goretti, the sky over the swamp

(from – 6 July, anniversary of the death of Maria Goretti, the twelve year old killed after an attempted rape and proclaimed a saint by the Church on 24 June 1950.
Maria Goretti was born in Corinaldo, in the province of Ancona, the 16 October 1890, by Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini, peasants of humble origins and very religious, who lived by cultivating the land. Terzogenita, she was baptized in the parish church of Saints Peter and Paul in the town. As years go by, the scarce economic resources of the family push the Goretti to move, at the end of 1896, in Paliano, in the province of Frosinone and settled in Colle Gianturco, becoming settlers on a farm.

Maria Goretti and the meeting with the Serenelli
Three years remain here, first by arranging alone, then entering into partnership with Giovanni Serenelli. The man has two children, Gaspare and Alessandro. The latter will develop a pathological obsession for her. And in the end he will kill her in a barbaric and truculent way. But let's go in order. The two families share work and harvest.
In 1900 they move to Ferriere di Conca, on the border with the city of Neptune, to work for Count Attilio Mazzolenì, who assigns them a home.

The death of the father
The climate of the Agro Pontino is not healthy and the father, Luigi Goretti, takes malaria first, then typhoid and meningitis. Die on 6 June of the same year. The wife, Assunta, she remains alone to run the family of six children. Decide, despite the difficulties, to stay and work with the Serenellis for the count. The girl has 10 years, he is docile and has unshakeable faith, so much that it is she who gives courage to mom, increasingly desperate for hard work and chronic lack of money.

Maria Goretti, early faith and worship to the Madonna
Even the desire of the little girl who demonstrates an unusual religious sense for her age, to be able to receive the Eucharist, it is a luxury he cannot afford. He should make his first communion, learn doctrine, then attend the ceremony for which you need a new dress. The girl still manages to take lessons from the cloakroom keeper and a priest, don Don Alfredo Paliani, who only goes to town on Sunday. Quickly learn the catechism and the 16 June 1901, together with his brother Angelo he received the Eucharist from Father Basilio dell’Addolorata for the first time, which has been in the Agro Pontino for a couple of years.

Alessandro Serenelli and his obsession with Maria
He also develops an intense devotion to Our Lady, with the daily recitals of the rosary. Meanwhile, it begins to grow and attracts the attention of Alessandro Serenelli, eight years older than her, who starts to woo her. It has already failed, a bit for bad companies, a little by inclination. In a short time it becomes morbid.

Maria's refusal and Serenelli's criminal project
One day, in early summer, in 1902, the advances that she refuses go away crying for her vulgarity, he then threatens her: “Se fiati, I `ll kill you". After a few days he tries again, is rejected again. Anger and the desire to punish her begin to rise inside him, killing. Thus a long awl is prepared 24 centimeters. Then, in the days that follow, gives her no respite. He persecutes her, constantly scolding her for trivial reasons and overloading her with work. She clings to faith, but she asks her mom never to leave her alone. But the woman does not imagine what is happening and perhaps does not pay attention to this request.

The brutal murder of 5 July
The fatal attack takes place on 5 July, early in the afternoon. Both families are engaged in threshing. Alexander is driving one of the two oxcarts, while Maria sews clothes on the boy's order.
The girl's brothers have fun playing on the wagons while the mother is working in the farmyard. At one point the boy goes to her and asks her to replace him because he has to go into the house to do something urgent. Entering the kitchen he obliges Maria, that's out there, to follow him. She refuses and he loses his head, he takes it violently by grabbing her by the hair. She tells him that if he does what he has in mind, he will go to hell, as he himself will tell at the trial:
“Seeing that he absolutely did not want to comply with my brutal cravings, I went on a rampage e, took the awl, I started hitting her on the belly, how you pound the corn ... The moment I vibrated the blows, not only was he struggling to defend himself, but he repeatedly invoked his mother's name and shouted: Dio, Dio, I die, Mother, Mom! I remember seeing blood on her clothes and leaving her while she was still wiggling. I understood very well that I had mortally wounded her. I threw the weapon behind the chest and went to my room. I locked myself in and threw myself on the bed ".
Although the girl is now dying, with wounds so deep on her belly that her bowels come out, he manages to call for help. When they take her to the hospital, the doctors count fourteen blows that have injured her left lung, the diaphragm, the gut. Others remain alive 24 ore. Meanwhile Alessandro, is led by the Carabinieri to the barracks of Nettuno. Maria needs hospitalization at the Fatebenefratelli hospital, which he reaches in an ambulance, together with the mother. Once you arrive, mom is not allowed to spend the night with her and has to leave. The young woman is assisted by a nurse and two nuns.

The interrogation of the Carabinieri
Early in the morning, when Assunta returns, his condition has worsened. Then the Carabinieri arrive to question her about what happened.
They ask her if Alessandro had annoyed her other times before that day. She replies that yes, he had already done it twice. The mother, upset she asks why he didn't say anything to her and she: "Mother, swore that if I said that, he would have killed me ... meanwhile he killed me anyway ".

The last hours of life: the forgiveness of his murderer, then the delusion
When the archpriest arrives, of Neptune, Monsignor Themistocles Lords, he decides to confess her and asks her if she wants to forgive her tormentor. She answers yes, rather pray for him, she hopes he can reach her in Heaven. She is given extreme unction. Shortly thereafter, he starts delirious. He alternates the scenes of the violence suffered with those in which he sees the white lady, full of lights and flowers. Turn at 15.45 the 6 July 1902.

The deadly, the funeral, the monument, the biography
His death suffered an immediate echo in the surrounding environment. She had been a lovely little girl, he had had the gift of authentic faith, simple and profound, that he had put into practice with his own life, and died in martyrdom. When the funeral is celebrated, people come from all over, as well as prelates and authorities from Rome. Two years later, to Neptune, a marble monument is dedicated to her, then it is the turn of the biography written by the lawyer Carlo Marini. Inspired by the story of Maria Goretti, even a movie, Sky over the swamp, by Augusto Genina, released in 1949, winner of the silver ribbon for best director.

The beatification process
His grave, in the cemetery of Nettuno, becomes a pilgrimage destination. Then his remains are exhumed in 1929 and placed in the chapel of the Sisters of the Cross. Finally, transferred to the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, always in Neptune, visited by Monsignor Achille Ratti, future Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI in September 1969.
In 1935 the diocese of Albano, of which the locality of Neptune belonged asks to be able to begin the procedures for the beatification process. To which it arrives, but, only in 1947, the 27 April, in St. Peter's Square in Rome, with Pope Pius XII.

Maria Goretti proclaimed saint in 1950 da papa Pio XII
After only three years,instead, the 24 June 1950, he is still pope Pio XII to proclaim her holy, after several healings obtained with prayers to Maria Goretti were considered by the special commission established, miraculous. The first dates back to 4 May 1947, it is an instant cure of a woman from exudative pleurisy and abundant fluid. The second, four days later, instant healing of a man with severe foot hematoma on which a heavy boulder had fallen while at work.

What happened to Alessandro Serenelli?
Serenelli is sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Noto. There have already been cases of mental imbalance and alcoholism in the family.. At the trial Serenelli confesses that he prepared the awl if the girl had resisted. He also confesses his desire to escape from the unbearable life in the fields, so killing and going to jail would always be better than staying in that place, live in those conditions, in extreme poverty.

Repentance and conversion
In the period from 1902 to the 1918, followed by bishop Giovanni Blandini, he repented and converted to the Catholic religion. Years later he tells of having seen Maria in a dream offering him flowers that become flames. In 1929, released in advance for good conduct, asks the forgiveness of Maria Goretti's family and her mother accepts. Then the man spends the rest of his life as a gardener and concierge in various convents, the last of which in Macerata, run by the Capuchins, where the 6 May 1970, a 87 years, for the aggravation of a fracture of the femur caused by a fall.

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