- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The body of an 11-year-old Italian girl killed more than a century ago and declared a saint will be on display this week at a Wisconsin church that bears her name.

Maria Goretti was stabbed in 1902 by a neighbor during a sexual assault. She forgave her attacker on her deathbed and said she hoped she would be with him forever in heaven.

In 1950, the Roman Catholic Church declared Maria Goretti a saint. Starting Friday morning, the body of the young saint is scheduled to be available for public veneration at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Madison for 22 hours. The church will remain open for people to file by her glass-sided casket.

Thousands are expected, the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1ZspBjX ) reported. Each person will be limited to 15 seconds in front of her casket.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our church,” said Monsignor Michael Burke, parish priest.

Although none of her remains will be visible, her wax-encased skeleton is largely complete, according to the Catholic Church. Touching the casket is said to bring healing.

“Healing, to me, can be as much emotional as physical,” said longtime church member Ed Felten, 77. “I believe with all my heart that this is going to change people’s lives.”

This is the first time the saint’s body has traveled to the U.S. from Italy. The tour, which began last month in New Jersey, promotes the Holy Year of Mercy, as proclaimed by Pope Francis and set to begin Dec. 8.

Friday marks the 125th anniversary of Maria Goretti’s birth.

Madison is one of two Wisconsin stops on the tour. From here, the body will travel to St. Mary’s Visitation Church in Elm Grove.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj


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