Posted by: liturgicalyear | July 6, 2010

A Saint for Our Time

The saints have a lot to teach us. Their examples, their trials, or their writings do much to inspire us or to challenge us.  Today’s saint gave me a great opportunity to discuss a very difficult topic with my children.

I remember being a little tentative reading the story of St. Maria Goretti to my children. She is one of the youngest saints of the Church.  Her death at 12 in 1902 is a frightening one for children let alone for young girls.   Yet there is much to be learned.

Maria was attacked by an 18 year old neighbor who tried to rape her.  It was Alessandro’s third attempt.  She warned him not to do it.  She said that it was a mortal sin and that he would go to hell if he did.  She fought him off saying that she would rather die than consent to her attacker’s demands and offend God.  He did not succeed, but rather stabbed her as she fought him off. 

Her mother and Alessandro’s father brought her to the hospital where she underwent surgery.  The doctors were unable to save her.  Before dying, she forgave her attacker.

Wow!  This story was jam-packed full of discussion opportunities with my daughters. 

  • We talked about the importance of speaking up if something bad happens even if someone makes a threat or if there is shame and doubt.
  • We talked about pornography and its effects on men, in particular, as this was the case for Maria’s attacker.
  • We talked about God’s plan for sex and its goodness and beauty and the importance of using God’s gifts in love and about the difference between lust and love. 
  • We talked about the grace of forgiveness.  Both Maria & her mother forgave her attacker.  None of us were sure we would be able to do that.
  • We talked about the grace of conversion and about the death penalty.  Alessandro was converted by a dream in which Maria appeared to him.  Upon release from prison, he went to Maria’s mother & begged her forgiveness.  He was at her canonization in 1954.

These were pretty tricky conversations as my girls were, well…young girls.  I don’t remember their ages, but I knew this gave me an opportunity to frame these difficult discussions with an adult and a Catholic point of view.  Many children don’t get that opportunity.

Whatever it is you need to teach your children or your CCD class, or if you yourself have lessons to learn, the saints have a much to lend to the discussion.  St. Maria Goretti is one of them.

 St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!  Anne

For a more complete story of St. Maria Goretti’s life click here.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God’s grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.                                                      



  1. May I ask what source(s) you used to teach your kids about the saints? Thanks so much for all you and Barbara do to help us do God’s will!!!

    • Hi, Linda,
      I use a number or sources. For the Saint of the Day, I use “Saints for Young Readers for Every Day” from Pauline Media (the Daughters of St. Paul). It is a two volume set: Vol 1 for Jan thru June & Vol 2 for July thru Dec. These are short stories – maybe a page or so tops. For longer, more in depth stories, I highly recommend the “Encounter the Saints” series also from the Daughters of St. Paul – fabulous books to read aloud or for 4th grade+ readers. Between 100-150 pages, so they’re not too long – well written & interesting, too. When my younger daughter was older (7th -8th grade), she would read the books on her own & then retell me the story, which led to some pretty good discussions. I think they’d be great stories for CCD classes, too. There are about 15 currently published & the Daughters plan on adding 3 per year. The book we read about St. Maria Goretti was not in the “Encounter the Saints” series. I can’t recall the publisher, & I can’t locate my copy which means it’s out on loan. There quite a few titles available for St. Maria Goretti, moreso than when I first purchased my copy. Adoremus Books is a supplier of Catholic materials. Because they also sell homeschooing materials, I would often purchase through them. I hope this is helpful. Anne

    • I also LOVE Amy Wellborn’s book on the Saints. I read saints to her in first grade, and she read them to herself for second and third. You can use this with a variety of ages.

      I have a book we touch base with daily: The One Year Book of Saints (by Fr. Clifford Stevens). This is a bit older, so I tend to do translating of it when they are younger. The one Anne mentioned (Saints for Young Readers for Every Day) is better when they are younger.

      I often check EWTN online: and the Vatican website saint section as well:

      In general, I find the daily saint descriptions need some paraphrasing and summarizing — in brief, some translation — to help you target length and content to your kid’s developmental level.



  2. Thank you so much, ladies! I REALLY appreciate your input! God bless you both for your great work!

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