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Lay for the Day
6th July


The feast of St Maria Goretti (1890–1902). Maria was a 12-year-old girl who resisted an attempt at rape by an 18-year-old neighbour, who then stabbed her. She forgave him on her death-bed, and after he had been tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison for her murder, she appeared to him in a dream and gave him flowers.
Her murderer was in the crowd at St Peter’s in Rome when her canonisation was announced in 1950. She is a patron saint of young people.


Brilliant nights
spent missing trains,
nights the earth spent
rolling round us,

the tall centres…
Everyone else
for some reason
had stepped offstage

to watch their own
lives from the wings.
We stormed the lights,
bravely swearing.

From us to God,
who died young, life’s
sap crackled like
incense. Rising

voices broke and
wavered thickly.
Up everyone’s
noses we got.

So where are we
now? A raucous
knot of youth fools

round centre-stage
for all the world
as though the play
was about them

and the wicked
nets of city
lights, the yellow
chains are round them.

John Gibbens
from Characters: One Life

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar