A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Letter from a murderer

Twenty-year-old Alessandro seemed to be a normal, red-blooded young man, but his eyes were set on Maria, a very pretty twelve-year-old girl. Finally, he came upon her when she was alone and he would not take her soft-spoken “no” for an answer. “No,” she shouted. “It is a sin!” He threatened her with a dagger, but still she would not yield. Red-hot anger overwhelmed him and he stabbed her fourteen times, so viciously that her intestines came out. Doctors tried to save her (it was 1902), but she died many painful hours later. What she said about her attacker was, “Yes, I forgive him for the love of Jesus, and I want him to be with me in heaven. May God forgive him!”

St. Maria Goretti was canonized in 1950.

Meanwhile, after serving 27 years in prison, Alessandro Serenelli had entered a Capuchin monastery where he lived until his death more than thirty years later. During that time, in 1961, he wrote this letter to the world:

"I'm nearly 80 years old. I'm about to depart.

"Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.

"My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.

"There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.

"When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.

"If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.

"Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I've been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel (Maria) and her dear mother, Assunta.

"I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life."
Alessandro Serenelli