A girl in love with the ideal of unity dies at the age of 23 following a violent attack by a young man with mental problems who had been stalking her for years. When the news broke, newspapers and national television expressed their admiration for this ‘exceptional girl’, ready even ‘to let herself be killed in order to keep her purity’. A modern girl, lively, with a massive range of interests, who lived her Christianity even to the point of suffering the most extreme consequences.
‘I’ve obviously got to be quick,’ she often used to joke about her Christian name ‘Santa’, which means saint, and she felt it as a responsibility. But her relatives, her friends and above all the young people of the Focolare Movement she was part of, were unanimous in saying that Santa’s secret was, in reality, a deep relationship with God. Santa met the Focolare at the Genfest in 1985 and she immediately became a member and in Bari, her home town, she began the ‘revolution of love’ the Youth for a United World Movement seeks to bring into the world.
As a result, her personal faith journey noticeably progressed and in her there developed an awareness that God was calling her to give him everything. It was a period of struggle, which made her ask herself what God really wanted: whether she should enter focolare or join Fr Kolbe’s Missionaries of the Immaculate. She had met the Missionaries when she was 15 and was impressed that they were committed to serving the most needy – the very people who attracted her always more to pour out her life constantly for them in homes for the elderly, among families in difficulty, in orphanages…
Meanwhile the boy with mental problems who was to kill her began stalking her. He gave her no respite and followed her everywhere, kept on telephoning her, threatened her with death and took away all peace. All over the world and in Italy too, today this is a crime, but at the time no such law existed and so, to protect herself, Santa was forced to have someone with her wherever she went and later, after a first attack, she and her family were forced to leave Bari.
‘Santa knew what was happening and prepared herself for the worst,’ said Fr Tino, the priest she would tell of her fears. ‘A few days before the attack she said to me: “If I were to be trapped I want to say my yes to God. I would rather die...” I would never have imagined that what Santa feared was about to become true.’
The worst fears became fact on the evening of 15 March 1991, when, on coming back from a meeting in the parish, Santa was assaulted and knifed outside her home. She died a few hours later in Bari hospital. Her last words were to forgive her attacker.
The crowds who came to her funeral were striking because of their variety: youth, nuns, friends from the parish, elderly people from the hospice… Santa had truly given herself for all, and many young people with doubts about the importance of purity found confirmation in Santa of their going against the flow. Because of the clear goodness of her life and the heroism of her purity, in 1999 the Catholic Church declared her a ‘Servant of God’.
The life of Santa Scorese has inspired a theatrical work: ‘Santa delle perseguitate’ (‘Saint of the Hounded’) and numerous articles and books have been written about her, one of which is ‘Un volo sempre più alto’ (‘Flying Always Higher’), published by Città Nuova, Rome. Letters, passages from her diary and testimonies about her and her life can be found on the site: http://www.santascorese.it/.
Friday, March 16, 2012