Checking out major relics

    The tour bus for the "Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti" stopped outside St. John the Evangelist on 13th Street Friday, and by early afternoon, the line stretched several blocks long.

   Goretti, an Italian virgin-martyr and one of the youngest canonized saints, died at the age of 12 in 1902 from stab wounds while fighting off sexual advances from the son of the family the Gorettis lived with. Her attacker later repented. 

    Visiting Pilgrims were moved to see the preserved body of the young saint. The relics are on a three-month Pilgramage of Mercy. "It's the true definition of forgiveness," said Terri Carpenter, 79, of North Dighton, Mass. "It's very powerful."

     Maria Goretti also is a high school in South Philadelphia, merged recently with St. John Neumann High School into Goretti-Neumann. Neumann's body is permanently on display in Philadelphia, at 5th and Girard, so it was possible to see both of them in Philadelphia this week.