Saturday, July 06, 2013
The Heroic Child Martyr: Maria Goretti
I find the feast of Maria Goretti deeply disturbing; born in 1890, killed in 1902, beatified in 1947, canonised in 1950, her story is really one of child abuse and the pre-Concilliar Church's response to it.
She was killed at the age of twelve, it seems as if there had been previous attacks on her which she had resisted. Sexual attacks on children are as ancient as humanity, the subtext of her Canonisation is that the preparation and investigation of her cause happened during the WWII, a time when so many children suffered a similar fate to St Maria.
The Church has never patronised children, this under nourished twelve year old is celebrated with the same rites as some ancient nun who suffered martyrdom. Its expectation is that faith in Christ demands heroic resistance to evil, even from children. Its expectation is that faith demands that parents should teach their children how to live and even die for Christ.
The photograph of Maria's mother at her canonisation and the presence of her repentant attacker Allessandro Serenelli speak poignantly about forgiveness and conversion, the flowers of innocence blood shed in Jesus Christ.
Her feast as a 'virgin martyr' reminds us that other children have followed the same fate, when I visit St Agnes in Rome the smallness and fragility of this Roman virgin martyr skull is a reminder that so many of those we honour under this heading were in fact little girls with heroic faith.
May their example and prayers encourage us to strive against the evils that attack the innocent, especially our children.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake