Wednesday 26 August 2020

Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr for Chastity - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston - CTS 20th Century Martyrs

Maria Goretti: Teenage Martyr for Chastity
CTS 20th Century Martyrs
Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784692995

This was the seventh volume in the CTS 20th Century Martyrs series that I have read. It is also the sixth by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston. Over the last few years, I have read over 150 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I believe there are eight volumes in this series. And about half of them have eBook editions. This is one that does. I believe there are few Catholic who have not heart at least the name Maria Goretti. And though I knew the name and the basic details I was not aware of the whole story. This volume though small gives that whole story. The description of this volume is:

“In 1902 in an Italian village a young girl, Maria Goretti, was murdered during a sexual attack. Her killer, Alessandro Serenelli, himself a teenager, was a close neighbour well known to her and her family. He had been threatening her for some time. What does it mean, how can it help, to say that she is a virgin and martyr? This is an often misunderstood and sentimentalised story. When many parents and teenagers strive for a balanced view of sexuality, of personal integrity, of Christian family life, and forgiveness to those who do irreparable harm, Maria's story speaks powerfully and authentically. It echoes John Paul's cry to today's youth - 'Do not be afraid to be saints!'”

 This volume was first published in 1997 and the eBook edition was released in 2017. 

The chapters in the volume are:

Saint Maria Goretti
The Goretti Family
Living with Serenellis
Death of Luigi Goretti
Maria’s New Circumstances
First Communion
Troubles with Alessandro
The Day of the Attack
Maria Mortally Wounded
Maria Forgives Alessandro
The Aftermath
Alessandro Serenelli
Alessandro’s Repentance
Beatification and Canonisation
Love is Stronger than Death

The book begins with these words:

“Maria Goretti was an eleven year old girl who, in 1902, was murdered in the course of a frenzied, sexually-motivated attack. She was beatified in 1947, in the face of much cynicism from the secular press who did not believe that a child could have shown that kind of depth of faith and only three years later she was canonised and named patron of youth.

Why is she a saint, recommended to us in the 21st century as a powerful Christian witness? A virgin and a martyr! – but what does that mean, how does it help? This all happened nearly a hundred years ago in an obscure Italian village. It involved an uneducated farm girl and a boy, not that much older than her, who was a close neighbour. Some say that this kind of tragedy happens all the time. What makes this one different?

Maria Goretti’s story touches on several important themes: the dignity of the human person; the objectifying of sexuality; the importance of Christian family life; how an individual and a family can forgive a person who has done them violence and irreparable harm and how Christian love can change someone’s life.”

And further on:

“In an age which demands justice, we are shown that in Christ it is possible to forgive. At a time when no one accepts blame, there is a story of repentance.”

And that is what we find in the biography of this saint. We have an example of Christ. We see in action the turning the other cheek. Carrying the pack a second mile. But this is also the story of her family, that instilled in her a deep faith. And the story of her attacker, and his eventual repentance and changed life.

This book is not an easy read. It is a wonderful witness. An amazing story of Christian virtue, and of forgiveness. Well worth the read.  An excellent volume in an important series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books about Saint Maria Goretti:

Books in the 20th Century Martyrs Series:
Sophie Scholl and the White Rose: Resistance to the Nazis - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Johann Gruber & Jacques Bunel Victims of the Nazis - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Maximilian Kolbe, F. Jagerstatter, K. Leisner, R. Mayer: Victims of the Nazis - Franz Jagerstatter
Edith Stein, Marcel Callo, Titus Brandsma: Victims of the Nazis – Matthew Monk
Saint Maria Goretti: Teenage Martyr for Chastity - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
The Atlas Martyrs – Jean Olwen Maynard

Jerzy Popieluszko Victim of Communism - Grazyna Sikorski
Isidore Bankanja - Jean Maynard

Gianna Molla - Jean Olwen Maynard
Books by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston:
Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr
Pier Giorgio Frassati Inspiration for Students
Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Martin de Porres

Rita of Cascia 

Prayer Books:
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Infant of Prague
Handbook of Novenas to the Saints: Short Prayers for Needs & Graces
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas: For Various Needs and Intentions
Devotion to St Jude: Patron of Hopeless Cases

A Book of Novenas

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