Maria Goretti (†06.07.1902)

Dear Maria,

I was reading that you were born in 1890 in Ancona, Italy into a family of farmers. At an early age you lost your father and together with your mother you took over the responsibility for your family. This sounds like you had your hands full. And it seems to me that there was a strong girl who already carried more than children's hands should carry.

You were 11 years old when the neighbor boy stalked you. He thought it was because of your religious piety when you did not return his advances. But you were 11 years old - 11 years! And I wonder if you even realized what was happening.
On July 5, 1902, he no longer accepted your 'no' and you fought back with all your strength. You fought back until he stabbed you, until you couldn't fight back anymore.  
On July 6, 1902, you died from your severe injuries. You were killed because you resisted rape. Because you stood up for your right and your dignity.  

Mary, can you believe it? You were canonized and proclaimed a martyr of virginity. You, an 11 year old girl, glorified for your appreciation of sexual abstinence. Yet I can hardly imagine that virginity was your concern. You were a child. You said 'no,' you resisted. Mary, you were right. You did the right thing. You were allowed to say 'no'! - Period.

Sr. Philippa

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