CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - It's an unusual attraction that's got a lot of Chicagoland Catholics excited. For just one day, people can come out to see the remains of the world's youngest saint, St. Maria Goretti.
The relics and remains of 11-year-old St. Maria Goretti, the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church, arrived at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in River West early Monday morning. Her body will be on display for 24 hours as part of a national tour. A Sacred Mass is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at St. John Cantius Church.
The visit marks the first time her sacred remains travel to the United States with special permission of the Vatican. Her remains arrived in New Jersey in September, and have been touring the country since then, with appearances scheduled through mid-November.
She was born in Italy, and died after she was stabbed by a neighbor who tried to rape her. Before she died, she forgave him, according to mariagoretti.com, the web site where more details about what is being called the Pilgrimage of Mercy can be found.
The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has assigned six federal agents to safeguard St. Maria Goretti's body and the Chicago Police Formal Honor Guard will be present at her casket.
Organizers expect between 8,000 and 20,000 people to visit the church for the historic visit. The biggest crowds are expected from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.