By a loving design of divine Providence, the supreme exaltation of a humble daughter of the people is being celebrated on this night of lights with an extraordinary solemnity and in a most unique way in the history of the Church: in the vastness and majesty of this place of mystery, converted for tonight into a sacred edifice, whose roof is the heaven that sings the glory of the Most High. We are here as it were more because of your desires rather than Our design; indeed the great number of faithful which has never been seen before at other canonisations almost imposes upon us to be here, as much as does the dazzling splendour and the intoxicating fragrance of this lily clothed in purple whom We a few-moments ago have raised to the honour of the altars: the sweet, little martyr of purity: Maria Goretti.
Why have you come, beloved children, in such almost incomparable numbers to her glorification? Why, listening to or reading the tale of her brief life, so much like the plain narrative of the Gospels in its simplicity of line, its surrounding colour, by the very violence of her death, are you moved even to tears? Why has Maria Goretti conquered your hearts so rapidly to become your favourite and most beloved child? In this world apparently disfigured by and immersed in hedonism there is not only a tiny band of elect athirst for heaven and the pure air, but a crowd, an immense multitude over which the supernatural perfume of Christian purity exercises an irresistible and hopeful fascination: hopeful and reassuring.
If it is true that in the martydom of Maria Goretti the virtue of purity shines forth the most, in this, and with this, the other Christian virtues have also triumphed. In purity we have the most elementary and significant affirmation of the perfect dominion of the soul over matter; in this supreme heroism which was nonetheless not rash, there was a tender, docile, obedient and active love towards her parents; the sacrifices of her arduous daily life; she was happy in evangelical poverty and sustained by her trust in divine Providence; she embraced her religion so tenaciously she was desirous of ever knowing more, it became the treasure of her life and food for the flame of prayer; her ardent desire for the Eucharistic Jesus and finally, the crown of charity, the heroic pardon granted to her killer: a rustic garland, but one so dear to God, of country flowers which adorned the white veil of her first Communion and a little later her martyrdom.
Thus this sacred rite becomes expressed spontaneously in a popular crowd of people for purity. If in the light of every martyrdom there is always a bitter contrast of the stain of iniquity, opposed to that of Maria Goretti there is a scandal which at the beginning of the century was almost unheard of. At a distance of almost fifty years, due to the often insufficient reaction of the good, the scourge of immodest dress, spread through books, pictures, shows, talk, fashions, beaches, organisations, have attempted to harden the heart of society and the family to the detriment principally of a still tender virginity calcifying those things which were the natural custodians of virtue.
You, our youth, beloved young men and women, apples of the eye of Jesus and Our own – tell Us – are you resolved to resist firmly with the help of divine grace whatever attacks others make on your purity?
And you, fathers and mothers, in the sight of this multitude, before the image of this adolescent virgin, who with her fearless candour has captured your hearts, in the presence of the mother of her, who brought her up to martyrdom, who does not regret her death, who had once to live in torture and now bends with emotion to invoke her, – tell Us – are you ready to assume the solemn duty to watch as far as you are able over your sons, over your daughters, in order to preserve them and the defend them against the dangers which surround them and to keep them always far from all places that would lead them into sin and moral perversion?
And now, all of you who now hear Us in the depth of your hearts! An immense heaven of beauty has been extended over the unhealthy filth and the mire of the world. And this heaven has received our little Maria; the heaven to which she wanted to go by the only way which leads to it: religion, love of Christ, heroic observance of his commandments.
Hail oh sweet and loveable saint! Martyr on earth and angel in heaven, from thy glory turn thine eye on these people who love thee, who venerate thee, who glorify thee, who exalt thee. On thy forehead thou bearest, clear and shining, the victorious name of Christ (cf. Apoc. 3, 12); on thy virginal countenance is the power of love, the constancy of fidelity to the divine Spouse; thou art a bride of blood, drawing upon thyself his sacred image. To thee, powerful in the bosom of the Lamb of God, we confide these Our sons and daughters here present and all those others who are in spiritually union with Us. They admire thy heroism, but more, they desire to imitate thee in the fervour of thy faith and in the incorruptible chastity of thy bearing. Our fathers and mothers have recourse to thee, in order that thou mayst assist them in their mission of bringing up their children. In thee, through Our hands, may all our virginal youth find refuge, in order that may be protected from all contamination and may be able to set out on the way of life in serenity and the happiness of the pure of heart. Amen.