Passions & Places


Maria's Story

Less than one hundred and fifty years ago the valleys of Corinaldo were probably not much different from those today, fringed by the splendid facades of the palaces and protected by imposing town-walls. In those years a peaceful child, lovingly called Marietta, used to walk around the village. She was born on 16th October 1860 in a small house shaded by a large elm tree. Serene and full of faith, the child used to walk on the surrounding hills and go to pray at the 18th century Sanctuary of the “Incancellata”. Sadly the lives of poor people are unstable and soon Marietta was forced to move to Ferriere di Conca. It was here that her parents hoped to reap greater rewards for their hard work harvesting the fields owned by the family of Serenelli.

While her father and mother struggled to carry out their hard daily work, Marietta took care of her brothers and the other children left by the other parents working in the fields. Nearby, the young Alessandro Serenelli watched intently as Marietta grew up and in time his affections turned from a passionate obsession to pure madness when Marietta later refused him. Fourteen stabs ended the short life of this eleven year old child who, while agonising in pain, acquitted her murderer with these words: “I forgive you; I want you in Heaven beside me”.

The tragic history of Marietta soon echoed all over the world and the child became a serene symbol of purity and total dedication to God. So much so that in April 1947 she was beatified by Pope Pio XII. Three years later the same Pope, in the presence of Marietta’s mother Assunta and of the aggressor Alessandro Serenelli, confirmed the holiness of Marietta and honoured her with the name Santa Maria Goretti. Although the remains of Marietta rest in the Sanctuary of Nettuno not far away from the place where she died, her native city have preserved the memory of its beloved daughter by dedicating a sanctuary to her name. The Sanctuary (a former 18th century monastery) contains a crypt in which a marble statue portrays the dying Saint trying to shelter herself. Nearby in an urn the arm bone of the Saint is conserved, the same arm that Marietta raised to protect herself from the aggressor. Not far away there is the tomb where her mother Assunta rests.

The church of San Francesco also commemorates Saint Maria Goretti with a monument in marble close to the place where she was baptised.


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