Maria Goretti Was A Martyr For Purity – So Why Not Say So, Pope Francis?

Maria Goretti Was A Martyr For Purity – So Why Not Say So, Pope Francis?

.- Pope Francis has marked the feast of the young martyr St. Maria Goretti by calling the faithful to follow her example and be forgiving to those who wrong them.

The memory of Maria Goretti’s example should “encourage you to commit yourselves, like the Saint you venerate, to being witnesses of forgiveness,” the Pope wrote in a letter for the July 6 feast of the  Italian who is known for having forgiven her attacker…

Pope Francis also compared the trials experienced by the Goretti family with those faced by families today, such as poverty and forced migration.

“Poverty and the urgent need for work pushed the Goretti to immigrate from their native Corinaldo,” the Pope said.

Francis compared the “tears and poverty” which accompanied the Goretti family’s migration to the journeys made by families for “the most varied reasons,” including poverty.

“It is a situation which makes us feel every closer to this girl,” the Pope reflected. Read entire report here


While it is, of course, perfectly correct to honour the great charity shown by St Maria Goretti who forgave her attacker, it seems odd that the Pope would emphasise the saint’s wonderful forgiveness without emphasising, equally, that she is very much a saint for our times – our highly sexualised and promiscuous times. She is a wonderful role model for young people today, both boys and girls, who are faced, relentlessly, with temptations to sin against purity, day and daily.

So, that’s odd, in itself, that no great emphasis is placed on that key aspect of the martyrdom of Maria Goretti by Pope Francis. But there’s something else. Her attacker was later able to reveal that when she was fighting off his advances, Maria did so, not only for her own safety, but for his salvation. She told him over and over, that he was risking his soul.  

What a superb role model for everyone tempted to put sexual gratification before the Laws of God. Think divorced and “remarried” and all the other souls being led astray by the Amoris Laetitia mindset, fooled into thinking that they’re not really sinning at all.  

Why would the Pope omit these key considerations from his reflection on the life and death of the lovely little Saint and Martyr, Maria Goretti whose Feast was celebrated on 6th July. Why? 

Comments (33)

  • Bernadette Milliken

    Comment deleted. We do not recognise unapproved apparitions on this blog. Nor do we recognise amateur opinions about who is and who is not “a true pope”. That’s not for you – or anyone else – to say. We’ve already explained ad nauseam that the Church will always pronounce on any bad pontificate in God’s own good time. In the meantime, we recognise any duly elected pontiff but resist any false teachings. Simple. Stop making it seem complicated.

    July 14, 2016 at 2:52 am
  • editor

    A video plea to the Pope to clarify Amoris Laetita


    Includes Fr Linus Clovis, who addressed our recent Conference. The problem is, the speakers, including Father Clovis, are asking the Pope for “clarity” and “certainty” in his document about marriage and the family and he has gone out of his way to say that he considers this mindset to be “rigid”. He wants a “mess”, he doesn’t want us to be “certain”.

    What we really need is a video explaining to Catholics what to do in this crisis – unless bloggers think that the Pope will actually heed the pleas of those speaking in the film? I’d love to think he will, but I have serious doubts. So far, Pope Francis has dismissed all concerns and rebuked those who seek certainty in the Faith.

    July 14, 2016 at 8:51 am
  • Fidelis

    The video is good but I agree, it won’t move the Pope. I also think the emphasis now should be on purity – if the Pope doesn’t understand the importance of that virtue, he’ll never understand Christ’s teaching on marriage. I think consciences and perceptions have been dulled in the V2 years and that includes the Pope.

    It’s just unbelievable that he didn’t stress Maria’s defence of her purity and why that’s important, instead of stressing her “mercy” towards the attacker. Now, more than ever, we need a model of purity.

    July 14, 2016 at 10:26 am
  • Catriona

    Maybe Pope Francis emphasised Maria’s forgiveness because he wants to show people that the Church isn’t always going on about sexual sins, but is focusing on the Gospel values, such as mercy. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think purity is important, but he wants to get away from the image of the Church as sex-obsessed. Maria’s forgiveness towards her attacker is a marvellous example to set, although I suppose there’s always the danger that it downplays the crime of rape.

    Just a thought.

    July 14, 2016 at 8:01 pm
    • Lily


      The Pope is downplaying the importance of purity, not the crime of rape – to be frank,I know it’s not PC to say this, but the lack of modesty in dress might be a factor in some rape cases. The pope might have pointed out the different strands of purity that would help improve our society, if he’s that scared of talking about salvation or offending against political correctness.

      July 14, 2016 at 9:14 pm
    • editor


      “[Pope Francis] wants to show people that the Church isn’t always going on about sexual sins, but is focusing on the Gospel values, such as mercy. “

      You are, of course, kidding – right?

      Just remind me, now, Who was it said… “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”

      Oh yes, I remember now, it was Our Lord, and the above particular exhortation to purity is reported in the Gospel of Matthew 5:27 – which, I guess, makes it a “Gospel value” – yes?

      You betcha, “yes”. The Commandments and the Gospel imperatives to purity are not evidence of a “sex-obsessed” Church. It is the secular world that is sex-obsessed. Goodness, the clowns being paid big bucks to advertise goods and services around the world, can’t advertise a tube of toothpaste without sexualising the product.

      Pope Francis should have grasped the opportunity afforded by the Feast of the lovely St Maria Goretti, to remind the world (including his own decadent priests) that purity is a beautiful virtue, largely lost to our hedonistic, shallow societies, but without which, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

      But, as any respectable cynic will tell you: that’ll be the day…

      July 14, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    • Christina


      “Maybe Pope Francis emphasised Maria’s forgiveness because he wants to show people that the Church isn’t always going on about sexual sins, but is focusing on the Gospel values, such as mercy.”

      I’m puzzled as to why you think purity isn’t a ‘Gospel value’ as well as mercy, or am I misunderstanding you?

      July 15, 2016 at 12:01 am
      • editor

        Nay, nay, Christina! Where have you been these past fifty years, wummin?

        Gospel values are respect (for every religion and none under the sun) tolerance (for every sin you care to name) and diversity (specifically all 60+ genders)

        Honestly, between Spudeater missing the boat on “mercy” and “forgiveness” and you not able to recognise a “Gospel value” when it hits you from every pulpit in the land, not to mention every edition of The Tablet, I’m beginning to think I really AM a super-intelligent (witty, glamorous etc) lady person – sorry, slipped into “sexist” language there – oops!

        July 15, 2016 at 12:07 am
      • Christina

        Ed, now I’m REALLY puzzled. I think you’ve misread my short post to Catriona. SHE seems to think purity isn’t a Gospel value, so I, who know that it IS 😇, am asking her why she thinks it isn’t!

        And now I’ll have to go and see what that Spudeater has been up to now.

        July 15, 2016 at 9:06 pm
      • Therese


        Methinks Spud has taken over Editor”s persona. Too much larking aboot here lately – some of us are getting confused!!

        July 15, 2016 at 9:44 pm
      • Christina

        Therese, that must be it. I’m definitely more muxed ip than usual 😁.

        July 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm
      • Catriona

        I think because human weakness is such that people will always commit sins, including sexual sins, but not everyone will forgive. You can be sorry for something, everybody can be sorry, but not everyone will forgive. That’s what makes Maria Goretti so important, not that she was “defending her purity” but that she was ready to forgive the man who assaulted her.

        July 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I’m sorry but I do not agree. We hear all the time from people who say they forgive, but nobody is pushing purity – not even the Pope!

        You can’t pick and choose which Gospel values you think are important. They are all important and the Pope should be saying that not just blabbing on about mercy all the time, especially when he is nearly always abusing the word. It’s not being merciful to let people think sexual sins are not sins at all, as he does if you read Chapter 8 and notes in Amoris Laetitia, and his “who am I to judge”. .

        July 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm
      • Prognosticum

        Both are important. Purity–in this case virginity–has an inestimable value in the Chistian tradition and has always been seen as the manifestation of the Kingdom of God which will be inhabited by the pure of heart. The world can understand forgiveness to an extent, but it can never understand purity which it sees as an unnatural privation.

        July 17, 2016 at 2:35 pm
    • Prognosticum

      As Editor rightly points out, purity of heart is indeed a Gospel value.

      But the perception that the Church is sex-obsessed in out there, all right. It is the consequence not only of a too narrow view of morality, but also of a failure to teach morality in relation to Christ.

      July 17, 2016 at 2:28 pm
      • editor


        Just checking the blog quickly before posting a new thread, so I’m glad I caught this because I don’t think it’s “purity of heart” alone that is a Gospel value. Purity of body as well – we’re urged to take all necessary steps e.g. to avoid looking at impure matter, or anything or anyone which may lead to us committing a sin of impurity – the hyperbole “pluck out your eyes/limbs” is Our Lord’s way of emphasising the importance of this Gospel value,surely?

        I suspect, anyway, that it’s like the song says about love and marriage – “you can’t have one without the other”!

        July 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm
  • spudeater

    The failure of the Pope to even touch upon the centrality of personal purity in the martyrdom of St.Maria Goretti, while a tragic dereliction of duty is however unsurprising. His whole pontificate seems obsessed with proclaiming that authentic practising of the Faith is manifested in social and environmental care to the virtual exclusion of any mention of personal purity (commensurate with one’s state in life) as being utterly fundamental to maintaining a state of grace which is surely the first responsibility of every Catholic who has ever lived.

    This mindset is not of course restricted to the Pope but permeates all ranks of the clergy – I certainly can’t recall ever hearing a sermon about purity, custody of the eyes, modesty of dress, etc. St.John Bosco could be very indulgent towards the young people under his charge, many of whom could accurately be described as ‘rough and ready’ but whenever anything that even hinted at being contrary to purity came to his attention, he did not hesitate to employ swift corporal punishment (clearly the saint was an exponent of the Zero Tolerance approach a full century or more before it came to prominence). Sadly, those charged with guiding today’s young people appear far more concerned with encouraging swimathons for Cafod or helping out at the local food bank (praiseworthy as those activities are – well at least the latter!) than with forming a robust and genuine Catholic interior life. How sad that you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between a group of young Catholics and their non-Catholic peers when both are in mufti, 21st century-style – or rather lack of it. What a terrible disservice has been done to generations of our young people.

    By the way, I received my First Holy Communion on the feast day of St. Maria Goretti – a Sunday – and I remember being the only boy wearing his school shorts that day rather than trousers at my mother’s insistence. Needless to say, I haven’t completely forgiven her to this day.

    July 14, 2016 at 8:19 pm
    • Lily


      A great post! And what a hoot about you not completely forgiving your mother to this day re. the shorts. LOL! She loved her little boy and didn’t want you to look older. That’s a mother’s heart for you, LOL!

      July 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm
    • editor


      You’ve redeemed yourself now, with that concise analysis and hilarious account of your First Communion day. What a beautiful Feast on which to receive your First Holy Communion.

      And your mother, God bless her, deserves your whole-hearted forgiveness. Heavens, are you not paying attention? Where’s your mercy, Mr Spudeater? Don’t you realise that there’s just NOTHING that cannot be forgiven … except “rigid legalism” (i.e. a love of Catholic Tradition, notably the ancient Mass not to mention a sense that we ought to try to keep the Ten Commandments). Anything else, though, especially if it’s a serious sin, is to be forgiven, pronto! Mercy me! I thought you knew that by now.

      So, hug your mum and tell her that you’re making short work (cough) of your long-standing grudge – it’s now forgiven and forgotten!

      July 15, 2016 at 12:03 am
  • editor

    On a more serious note, we might all pray for all those affected by the terrorist/lorry attack in Nice, south of France. Reports say there are many dead (RIP) and injured. BBC report here

    As we are, providentially perhaps, discussing the virtue of purity, we might pray especially for all those who died without preparation – what we used to call “an unprovided death” – in a place associated with fun, a holiday destination, during festivities on a day of national celebrations. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace…

    And for the injured…Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for them.

    July 15, 2016 at 12:12 am
    • Elizabeth

      What a truly terrible thing! We were at a similar Bastille day firework display here in Arcachon last night and came away saying what a lovely friendly event it had been. Awful to wake up and read this today. What a dreadful time we are living in and may God help the injured and bereaved.

      July 15, 2016 at 6:52 am
  • Christina

    Given Pope Francis’s teaching about adultery, and sexual matters in that context, and also his apparent indulgence towards sodomites and lesbians and their greatest of all sins against holy purity, it would be very surprising indeed if he said anything to extol this virtue. Ch. 8 of AL is a clear statement of his lack of esteem for it.

    July 15, 2016 at 12:18 am
    • editor


      In a nutshell. You got it, girl – I mean, person!

      July 15, 2016 at 12:29 am
      • Christina

        Aye. I’ve just about caught up.

        July 15, 2016 at 9:17 pm
  • RCA Victor

    This from Butler’s Lives of the Saints on St. Maria Goretti (emphasis mine):

    A number of “popular” canonizations of early times notwithstanding, a violent and unjust death alone is not sufficient to constitute martyrdom. (The common idea that St. Joan of Arc, for example, was a martyr is mistaken.) But St. Mary Goretti was killed in defence of a Christian virtue, and so was every bit as much a martyr as if she had died for the Christian faith. And it was Cardinal Salotti’s opinion that, “Even had she not been a martyr she would still have been a saint, so holy was her everyday life”.

    That virtue, of course, was purity, which she died defending. She did not die, it should be added, defending mercy and forgiveness: those were qualities which helped form the sanctity of her character.

    July 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    RCA Victor,

    I’m so glad you posted that quotation from Lives of the Saints because I think the wrong idea about martyrdom is everywhere. If someone dies for some cause, or is killed in an accident on an animals right protest (that really happened and was in the news a few years ago) they are called “martyrs”.

    That’s a very clear explanation of the difference between a saint and a martyr.

    July 16, 2016 at 11:54 pm
  • RCA Victor

    Still chewing the cud about this….”purity” in a Catholic sense signifies not only being free from the stain of sin and even being in a state of heroic virtue, but also implies complete acceptance of and obedience to all the teachings of the Church. And we all know how Francis describes said acceptance and obedience….besides, when all you think about is acquiring the smell of the sheep, without correcting that smell, then you are in a state opposite to purity! Smell? What smell? I’m OK, you’re OK! Who am I to smell?

    From which I conclude, as others already have here, that for Francis, “purity” is bad karma, baby….

    (BTW, I wonder what Francis has to say about Our Lady’s purity?)

    July 17, 2016 at 12:15 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      “…I wonder what Francis has to say about Our Lady’s purity?”

      Don’t – for Heaven’s sake – ask him! At least, not on a plane!

      July 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm
  • Prognosticum

    Francis is a 1960s social justice liberal and they do not normally put a high value on chastity. He is very right, however, to underline the forgiveness aspect. Not only did she forgive her aggressor before she died, but her family forgave him also.

    July 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm
    • Prognosticum

      I seem to remember visiting Maria Goretti’s final resting place on a pilgrimage to Italy a few years ago. Unless I am mistaken, the body of her aggressor lies opposite her after her relatives allowed that it be transferred there.

      July 17, 2016 at 2:39 pm
  • John Kearney

    The Church of today prides itself in being a ‘Church for the 21st Century’. The teachings of Christ are an anachronism and although we will parade the good book to the lectionary we are not expected to take seriously Jesus on Marriage and Adultery. No, NO they are building up loving communities and we can all go along and feel loved and wanted and we will comfort the community by not mentioning any of the nasty things that would upset them. So a priests tell us that good marriages are an ideal, and as far as adultery is concerned all the couple need do is give to the poor – adultery, what nonsense. They are too spiritually blind to see what this had done to our young people. On Maria Goretti the young man who attacked her was trying to satisfy himself at her expense and gave no thought to the impact it would have on her life. But this is true of so many relationships today. The boy satisfies himself and gives no heed to the damage he may have made to the life of the girl. It is not just about being pregnant it is about how the girl can value herself when every affair is just another one where she is used and abandoned. When she becomes pregnant the boy moves on but promises support which does not happen. Just look around you. Purity before marriage is a thing of the past and has been replaced by sexual relationships without depth, only the sex factor, and a couple who slept around find it is difficult to be faithful within marriage. Maria was only 11 and perhaps would not have understood much of what I have written but she knew what Jesus wants of her. She knew this was wrong and Alessandro was wrong and she should obey Jesus for he knew best how to build a perfect society. So, yes, Maria Goretti died for purity and the Pope in this day and age should have reminded the Catholic world just what Jesus taught.

    July 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm
    • editor

      John Kearney,

      Well said. That was definitely a missed opportunity by the Pope. One, unfortunately, of many.

      But then, Our Lady of Good Success forewarned us that, in the 20th century, when marriage would be severely attacked “he who should speak out will fall silent.”

      If only he’d fall silent on everything else!

      July 17, 2016 at 8:43 pm
  • gabriel syme

    How typical of Francis to distort the significance of Maria Goretti.

    Her story of bravery and virtue is amazing. Today, it is completely counter-cultural and challenging.

    To those raised in the puerile novus ordo Church, amid a culture of pornography, promiscuity, immodesty and impurity – all of which are scarcely challenged by the modern Church – Saint Maria is shocking and radical. She jolts people out of their comfort zone and forces them to make choices.

    If Francis had half a brain, he would chiefly be proclaiming this aspect of her life, as opposed using her to prop up his “year of mercy” initiative.

    July 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm

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