An Italian nun who was stabbed to death by three teenage girls has been beatified, after Pope Francis declared her a martyr, killed “in hatred of the faith.”
Sr. Maria Laura Mainetti was beatified on June 6, the anniversary of her murder, in Chiavenna, the northern Italian town where she was killed in the year 2000.
Presiding at the beatification, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, praised the sister’s charity.
Noting that Jesus speaks of a “new wine” in St. Mark’s Gospel, he said: “The new wine is already enjoyed by the saints of whom it is written ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
“Among these guests today the Church recognizes the blessed martyr Maria Laura Mainetti. We all know the crucial hour of her life: while she was dying, she was forgiving. By forgiving, one is forgiven. At the end of her life, Sr. Maria Laura did so.”
Pope Francis recognized Mainetti as a martyr on June 19, 2020.
Speaking after his Angelus address on the day of the beatification, the pope said: “Today in Chiavenna, in the Diocese of Como, Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, of the Daughters of the Cross, who was killed 21 years ago by three girls influenced by a satanic sect, is being beatified.”
“She, who loved young people more than anything, and who loved and forgave those same girls who were prisoners of evil, leaves us her life program: to do every little thing with faith, love, and enthusiasm. May the Lord give us all faith, love, and enthusiasm.”
The religious sister was the superior of the Sisters of the Cross convent in Chiavenna. She was well known in her small town for her social and charitable commitment to dispossessed youth and poor people.
On the evening of June 6, 2000, three girls who knew her because she had taught them catechism lured Mainetti into a park by claiming that one of them needed to talk, because she had been raped and impregnated and was considering an abortion.
The three girls made Mainetti kneel and shouted abuse at her. One girl beat the 60-year-old sister with a brick and another pushed her head repeatedly into a wall.
They took turns stabbing the sister 19 times with a kitchen knife. They had, according to Italian media reports, intended to stab her 18 times, six times each, to form by their violence the number 666.
Mainetti prayed throughout the attack and asked God to forgive the girls for their actions.
Her last words, according to some accounts of her death, were “Lord, forgive them.”
The beatification Mass took place at Chiavenna’s sports ground at 4 p.m. local time in the presence of around 2,500 people.