State of Michigan Corrections Department officials have denied a request by a Vatican-sponsored program to bring the relics of a Catholic virgin martyr saint, known for forgiving her killer, to the Macomb Correctional Facility.
The remains of St. Maria Goretti, an 11-year-old Italian girl stabbed to death while resisting a sexual assault in 1902, were displayed before prisoners on Sept. 20 at the infamous Sing Sing prison outside of New York City. But a Michigan corrections department spokesman cited security concerns in rejecting an appearance for the saint’s relics at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven on Friday , while the program visits three Detroit area parishes during a multi-state tour.
“We decided not go to go forward. We had concerns about security in the facility, and concerns about bringing such a venerated item into our facility, and keep it protected and keep our facility protected,” said Chris Paulz, a state corrections department spokesman.
Paulz said Michigan officials did not consult with Sing Sing prison officials about how the program was received there.
The relics of St. Maria Goretti are embedded in a silver box inside a wax likeness of her and displayed in a glass casket. She is considered the church’s youngest saint and a model of mercy.
The Rev. Carlos Martins, who oversees the relics as part of the Vatican-sanctioned Pilgrimage of Mercy tour, said he was disappointed.
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