Nine-year-old Maria Goretti was very busy every day with the cooking, washing, mending and cleaning for her mother and five brothers and sisters. The Gorettis’ father had just died, and his poor widow had a very hard struggle working in the fields to support her children. But her eldest daughter, Maria, was all eagerness to help. And indeed, Maria did seem to manage all the housework, plus the care of baby Teresa!The high point of Maria’s life was her First Holy Communion. For 11 months she and her brother walked to daily catechism lessons in preparation, and finally the great day arrived. The priest urged the First Communicants always to practice holy purity, even at the cost of death.But young Alessandro Serenelli, who lived with the Gorettis, had not received such good training. Instead, he spent much time reading bad papers and magazines. One fateful day when the adults were all in the fields, Alessandro tried to get Maria—now 11 years old—to sin, threatening her with a dagger. When she refused, he stabbed her 14 times. In her last hours of life, Maria forgave poor Alessandro and received Holy Communion; then her beautiful soul went home to God.Many years later, Maria was solemnly canonized by the Holy Father. Little Maria Goretti, the child who loved purity more than life itself, had become a great saint.