Two days ago I made a quasi-pilgrimage to visit the major relics of Maria Goretti in Dallas. (I can't honestly call a 20-minute drive a real pilgrimage.) Strangely enough, the relics were not displayed at St. Maria Goretti parish, but at the even more architecturally modernist St. Monica.
I have visited relics before, but never any that drew such a large crowd. The line when I arrived lasted about an hour. At other times of the day pilgrims were reporting 3-4 hour waits. A shuttle was bringing people over from a local Protestant church that had offered its parking lot for use. One lady helpfully told those standing in line that they could easily skip ahead and sneak in through another door.
On the approach to the church, I was accosted by some well-meaning devotees selling books and laminated prayer cards. The narthex (lobby?) featured an audio loop of a priest telling the story of St. Maria's extraordinary forgiveness. Inside the church, Knights of Columbus divided us into two efficient lines. Accosted again by devotees insisting that I take a last-minute prayer card, I offended them greatly by turning them down, all while also trying to ignore the very loud video presentation playing on the projection screens. Two Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre—their Knight husbands apparently taking a smoke break—stood elevated in the sanctuary overlooking the steady stream of pilgrims.
Maria herself was a small girl when she died. She was murdered during an attempted rape at the age of eleven by a twenty year-old man. Her hair is slightly lighter than it appears in most paintings and statues of her. Everything except her hair is covered while resting in the reliquary.
Resistance to evil is no longer in vogue; forgiveness—whatever that now means—certainly is. And if the recipient of that forgiveness is a pedophile rapist? What better way to herald in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy?