A senior theology and catechetics major at Franciscan University of Steubenville emphasized the life and example of holiness and chastity of Saint Maria Goretti at a women’s event Wednesday at 6:30 in the Fireside Lounge.
Gabby Binkley-Williams spoke to female students about St. Maria Goretti and shared some of her personal testimony and love of the saint.
Binkley-Williams told the story of Maria Goretti, how she came from a family struck by poverty and how her father passed away from malaria when she was 9 years old.
“This left her family very destitute,” Binkley-Williams said.
The family was close friends with a man named Alessandro, Binkley-Williams said, and he “started taking a liking to Maria.”
Binkley-Williams said that one day as an 11-year-old Maria was in her home, Alessandro held a knife to her saying, “If you do not comply with my wishes, I will kill you.”
Maria refused to accept his advances and Alessandro stabbed her 14 times, killing her.
Binkley-Williams said Maria Goretti’s last words “were that she forgave Alessandro for what he did, and she wanted him to be with her in heaven.”
Alesandro remained overcome with anger at Maria, blaming her for what happened until one day she appeared to him in his prison cell. She brought 14 lilies to represent the 14 stab wounds, Binkley-Williams said.
Binkley-Williams said, “He knew that Maria had forgiven him, and he needed to go to Christ for forgiveness.”
Binkley-Williams closed her talk by saying, “If there’s any hurt in your heart … holding in your sin and your shame gives sin a power that it does not have.”
She encouraged the audience members to open their hearts to the love of God and accept his forgiveness just as Alesandro did.
Sophomore Maggie McCarron said, “Maria’s forgiveness and suffering is very humbling to think that an 11-year-old could have that much faith in Christ.”
The event was hosted by Women’s Ministry for a program in which various women come and speak about a female saint.