Hundreds of people lined the sidewalks around St. Monica Catholic Church in Dallas Tuesday to see the relics of St. Maria Goretti.
The relics of St. Maria Goretti are on display in Dallas is part of a nationwide pilgrimage to usher in the church's Holy Year of Mercy -- which, in March, Pope Francis declared would begin on Dec. 8.
Known as "The Little Saint of Mercy," she is also the patron saint of sexual assault victims.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Pilgrimage of Mercy - Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti
Catholic tradition holds that Maria Goretti was just 11, the daughter of a widowed Italian mother, when she was stabbed to death by a neighbor after resisting his sexual advances. On her deathbed, Maria forgave her attacker, hoping to greet him in heaven.
Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 24, 1950 and her mother attended the canonization ceremony at the Vatican, making it the first time a mother witnesses her child becoming a saint.
Maria's attacker also attended the ceremony. Alessandro Serenelli was released from prison and joined a monastery after he was, according to church tradition, moved to repentance by the child's forgiveness.
More than 500,000 attended her canonization ceremony, so many people arrived in Vatican City that the ceremony was moved from St. Peter's Basilica to St. Peter's Square.
St. Maria's remains are inside a glass-sided casket and inside the casket is a wax statue in which rests her skeletal remains. The church is also displaying a photo of the young saint.
"To have the relics of a saint especially renowned for her willingness to forgive the man who attacked her is a powerful message to all of us," said the Rev. Stephen Bierschenk, St. Monica's pastor. "Her example is a powerful example to each of us to seek to practice that same kind of mercy that we expect from God."[[339952492, R]]
St. Maria Goretti's remains went on display at 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. at St. Monica's Catholic Church on Midway Road, and a celebration of mass will be held at 7 p.m.
A typical Sunday brings close to 1,000 worshipers to St. Monica, but Tuesday the church expected the turnout to be much larger.
The relics came to Dallas from Tyler during five scheduled stops in Texas. On Wednesday, the relics move to St. Theresa Church in Sugar Land, then Houston on Thursday and Friday.