Saved from the death penalty


One argument against the death penalty is that they estimate about 25 percent of those fried or gassed, are innocent. Another argument is the saint whose feast day is in July.

In 1902, St Maria Goretti, a simple farm girl of 11 years, was approached by her father's partner's son, Alejandro who wanted to rape her. She had already vowed her chastity to God and resisted. He ended up stabbing her brutally, 11 times. He went back to his room but came out again when he heard the latch of her room door open. Maria had miraculously survived the stabbing (done with an ice pick) and had dragged herself to the door of her room which overlooked a balcony, where she planned to call for help to her mother who was in the fields working. Alejandro came back and stabbed Maria 3 more times in the back, then delivering the fatal wounds. He was 19 years old.

Maria was taken to the hospital in a horse drawn ambulance where she died a day later. Before she died, she pardoned her would-be rapist and murderer, and expressed the hope that he would be in Heaven with her.

Alejandro was taken in custody and tried. Too young for the death penalty, he was sentenced to 30 years of hard labor. The first three years, he spent in solitary confinement. His attitude about his crime was unrepentant. In his story to the jury, he blamed the victim, Maria for his crime, saying that he had been framed. Even in his first days in prison, he bragged to cellmates about his crime.

In the fourth year of his imprisonment, Alejandro had a dream in which he saw St Maria. She handed him 14 lilies, one for each time he stabbed her. When he woke up from this dream, he was a changed man. He begged the guards to let him talk to the warden and there, for the first time, he told the truth about Maria's rape, her innocence and his guilt.

He served about 25 years in prison and one of the first things he did upon his release was to seek out the mother of St Maria Goretti and ask her forgiveness. She told him that her daughter had forgiven him so she, too would forgive him. Soon after, he entered a Capuchin monastery and became a monk where he spent the rest of his life in prayer and devotion to God.

His testimony was helpful in the process of canonizing St Maria. She was canonized June 24, 1950 in St Peter's square because the crowd which had gathered was far too large to fit into the cathedral.

One of the morals of this story is that Alejandro, in converting and following a God centered life, helped to save many souls. Had he received the death penalty (which he certainly would have in the USA for such a horrendous crime), he would have never had the chance to convert and turn his life around.

And this becomes a plea against the death penalty even for those who are guilty. 1. Their punishment is much greater if they are allowed to live and think about things. and 2. They might well convert, becoming, as Alejandro did, a soldier for God.


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