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Saint Maria Goretti • Playing with the SAINTS!

Art by Tricia Hampo / When Hearts Listen

 

How hard is it for you to forgive someone who hurt you? How hard is it to ask forgiveness from someone you hurt?

 

by Christine Henderson

It was one of those days where you can sit outside to do your work. Maria was sewing up a shirt while her mother and siblings were out on the farm working. A young man she knew, Alessandro, snuck up on her and began to attack her.

“No, no you mustn’t! What you are doing is a sin!” screamed Maria.

Alessandro stabbed her many times. A couple of days later she died from those wounds. Before she died, she forgave her attacker and promised to pray for him. She said: “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli…and I want him with me in heaven forever.”

Maria had been born into a Catholic family on October 16, 1890. Her family was very poor after Maria’s father died, but her family’s love for God never wavered. Every day Maria’s mother and brothers and sisters went out into the fields to work. Maria stayed behind and took care of all the household responsibilities including cooking, sewing, and taking care of the youngest child, Teresa, who was still too young to work out in the fields. (Can you imagine having all those responsibilities when you were only twelve years old? Having to cook all of dinner? Maybe the next time your mom asks you to set the table, think about all the chores St. Maria had and don’t complain!)

After Alessandro attacked Maria, he was captured and sent to prison for thirty years. At first he wasn’t sorry for his sin. Then one day he had a dream. In the dream, he was sitting in a garden with Maria and she gave him a bunch of lilies. When he took them, the flowers burned his hands. Upon awakening, Alessandro was a changed man, sorry for his sins.

When Alessandro was released from prison, he found Maria’s mother and asked for forgiveness. She responded, “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?”

On June 24, 1950 Maria Goretti was declared a saint by Pope Pius XII. Alessandro was present at the beatification.

Eventually, Alessandro joined the order of Friars Minor Capuchin as a lay brother. He worked there as both a gardener and receptionist until his death.

Feast day: July 6

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

 

Discussion & Activity: Forgiveness

You’ll need some kind of snack or treat to share together at the end.

Have a talk with your child(ren) about forgiveness. For my kids, our best discussions occur while we are eating. So this may be a good one to do during snack or meal time. Here are some good questions to get the discussion going:

  • How do you feel when your brother/sister takes your toy away?
  • What  goes through your mind when you are asked to forgive him/her?
  • Do we need to forgive? Why?
  • When do you need to tell mom or dad or a trusted adult about someone doing something you don’t like? When is it tattling?
  • What can you do about the situation when someone takes your toy or says something mean?
  • What can you do to make it easier to forgive? (Ask Jesus to help.)

 

Activity: Acting out forgiveness

Have your children pretend to start arguing over whose turn it was in a game. (Act out the argument.) How can we solve this problem? What if one of you took his turn too early on purpose but now is sorry? What if he isn’t sorry?

After the children figure out how to solve the problem, let them share the snack together.

Christine Henderson speaks to audiences of all ages about topics ranging from homeschooling to prayer life and everything in between. She does this through sharing stories about the saints and relating them to the topic of the presentation.  To learn more, check out her website, PlayingwiththeSAINTS.com or email her at: PlayingwiththeSaints@gmail.com

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Follow Christine Henderson:

Wife, Mom, Homeschooling teacher, Speaker, Blogger: PlayingwiththeSAINTS.com

I am a stay at home-homeschooling mom of six kids ranging in age now from twenty-one to eleven. Currently, I am only homeschooling my two youngest-8th grade and 5th grade. Three of my children are in college and one is at the local high school doing a vocational training program in welding. It is hard for me to believe that my homeschooling journey began seventeen years ago! I also am very involved in my local Toastmaster's club. (This is an international public speaking organization.)  I love speaking to groups and sharing stories about the amazing saints of the Catholic church. In each presentation, I share an exciting story about a saint and then relate the story to a topic requested by the organizer. Topics range from prayer as a busy mom to making the most of the days God gives us. More information is on my website, PlayingwiththeSAINTS.com Or, you can email me at PlayingwiththeSAINTS@gmail.com

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