At St. Edmund’s Elementary School, we all know how powerful forgiveness can be when it changes people’s lives. Just before the Spring Break, Principal Mr. Field had an experience with a student that reminded him exactly how worthwhile working with youth can be.
It was a typical day, with no special events after school. There were a couple of students around after 3pm attending Homework Club, including a Grade 5 girl named MacKenzie. She popped her head into the Principal’s office and asked, “Hey Mr. Field, mind if I show you something?” Mr. Field has always had a soft spot for kids who pop into his office. It makes him feel like he was still in his Catholic high school teaching days, helping and answering all the questions of his curious Math and Biology students! Mr. Field replied, “Sure, let’s see it!” MacKenzie eagerly showed him her Saint Project, and told him all the details of how and why she chose her Saint. It meant so much for Mr. Field to see MacKenzie’s eyes passionately light up. Mr. Field saw how proud she was with her work; moreover, he saw how incredibly touched she was by St. Maria Goretti’s life story.
Below is a brief extract of MacKenzie’s project:
Why I Chose My Saint
One time, I was in the library looking for a book and I ran into my friend, Mia. I quickly glanced over at the book Mia had with her, and she saw St. Maria Goretti’s chapter. Her reaction was, “Oh my gosh! Her story was so interesting that it gave me an example of a great role model.”
St. Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890 in Gorninaldo Italy. In July, Maria’s dad had passed away, leaving behind her mother and brothers to take care of the farm. Maria was only 11 years old at the time. One day, while doing jobs around the farm, Maria was attacked by a hired farmhand named Alessandro. Maria was rushed to the hospital, but things weren’t looking good. A priest came to ask her if she forgave her abuser. She replied, “Yes”. She died shortly thereafter on April 27, 1902 at age 11 in the Roman province in the Kingdom of Italy.
Canonization / Miracles
The first miracle happened shortly after her death. Alessandro went to jail, but he never felt sorry for the wrongful crime he had committed. One night, Maria appeared to him in a dream. Alessandro started to feel sorry for what he did, so he admitted his sin and stayed in jail until they let him go. The very first thing Alessandro did when he was released from prison was see Maria’s mother and ask for her forgiveness. She forgave Alessandro, and went to church with him (side by side) every Christmas. St. Maria Goretti was canonized on June 24, 1950 in Rome by Pope Pius I.
MacKenzie told Mr. Field that she honestly “didn’t pray as much or think more about God” until she started her project. How MacKenzie was literally jumping up and down about St. Maria Goretti’s story warmed Mr. Field’s heart, and reminded him why he became a Catholic school teacher in the first place. While St. Maria Goretti’s story can be somewhat distressing, it was not the violence that made it palpable and relatable to the reader. The story’s appeal demonstrates an act of unbelievable forgiveness by a young girl, which eventually inspires redemption on the part of the sinner. The fact that an elementary student like Mackenzie can be inspired by the incredible deed of St. Maria Goretti emphasizes the significance of the saints in the lives of children today.