An amazing story of conversion and forgiveness: St. Maria Goretti & Alessandro Serenelli
Although Alessandro was only 19 years old, he had become addicted to pornography. Wanting to live out his fantasies he attempted to molest an 11 year old girl. As she yelled out, “No Alessandro, it is a sin…” he became enraged and stabbed her 14 times. Although she made it to a hospital and received Communion as Viaticum, she died.
Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Although he was aware that Maria, the girl, had forgiven him on her deathbed (even saying she wanted to be in heaven with him) he did not feel remorse. Then he had a dream – which was surprising in and of itself because Alessandro did not typically dream.
In this vivid dream, the prison walls and bars fells away as his cell became a sunlit garden. full of flowers. He was surprised to see a peasant girl dressed in white since they wear dark colors. Then he realized it was Maria. She was walking among the flowers, smiling and not as all fearful. He wanted to leave but couldn’t. Maria picked white lilies and handed them to him saying, “Alessandro, take them!”
One by one he accpted the 14 lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a flaming light. There was one lily for each of the times he had stabbed her. Then Maria smilingly said, “Alessandro, as I have promised, your soul shall someday reach me in heaven.”
The dream changed him. For the first time he understood the light of God’s grace and mercy. From that time on, he looked to reform his life.
Because of his good behavior, he got out of prison after 27 years. For a time he wandered as a farmhand, but then he became a brother in a Capuchin monastery.
Finally, 31 years after the trial, he went to visit Assunta Goretti, Maria’s mother. Begging Assunta’s forgiveness, she placed her hands on his head, caressed his face and gently said, “Alessandro, Marietta forgave you, Christ has forgiven you, and why should I not also forgive. I forgive you, of course, my son! Why have I not seen you sooner?”
The next morning Assunta, with head held high and tears falling, took Alessandro by the hand and led him to Mass. Side by side they took communion. From that day on he was welcomed into the Goretti family as “Uncle Alessandro.”
Assunta and Alessandro were also side by side when St. Maria Goretti was cannonized.