|Tom Layton of Simi Valley, California, a middle school teacher, is the author of "THE FIFTEENTH CRIMSON LILY" which is an account of the final days in the life of Saint Maria Goretti, from the perspective as if she were an American girl living in 1984 San Francisco. This account also tells the story of her murderer. The timeline of this story is 1984 to 2007.
Why 1984? It was during that year, the author became more familiarized with Saint Maria Goretti and her life. He chose her as a patron of children because he was a teacher; prayed to her, and felt he received many graces from God through her intercession.
The actual story is one of an illiterate, obscure pre-teenage farm girl who, through one particular act became somewhat heroic. There are no other accounts of any twelve year old children being honored with statues, churches, portraits, elementary and high schools, children's hospital trauma units, streets, shrines, and even a soccer stadium in Italy--but this has happened to the memory of this girl, Maria Goretti. There are 17 books, not including this one, written about her in every language. Four documentaries and two movies (both Italian) all made to recognize this child who put her love for Jesus foremost in her life.
The 170 page book I have authored, relates the same main characters as in the original 1902 story, and the difference is the place (San Francisco, California) instead of the Italian countryside south of Rome, Italy, and the time period. San Francisco was chosen because of the Italian influence found in the City's community of North Beach. The time period change was to make this story a little more relevant to readers' lives today.
In this 2007 version of these events...
Maria Goretti is a literate elementary school sixth grader living with her mother and five siblings in a North Beach apartment shared by a middle-aged alcoholic and his nineteen year old son, Alex Serenelli. He is her antagonist, and a star sophomore quarterback for Stanford University, who has gained National recognition as an outstanding former high school athlete and for his starting role in the final games of Stanford University's previous football season. He is at home for the summer.
Maria Goretti's father, Luigi, actually died from malaria in the swamps where they had to farm in Italy. In my story, Luigi Goretti was a former Marine helicopter pilot who develops an inoperable brain tumor and dies. shortly after the family moves to San Francisco from Maria's birthplace in Coronado, California.(Coronado, near San Diego, was chosen for this story because its similarity in name to Maria's actual birthplace: Corinaldo, Italy.)
The Serenellis and the Gorettis have adjoining apartments with a shared kitchen, as the actual families did in the original Italian story. The story and main characters remain the same, except the time and place are different.
The reason for the change in location and time for a story of some historical significance is so that young people will more readily be able to relate to a more modern and urban setting. Poverty is a still a problem as it was in the original story, however great negative peer-pressure and temptation for riches and a better life are prevalent and common in this updated tale, presenting situations equated to people living in today's world. In the original story, there would be no real chance for an escape from the poverty in the rural farm community in Italy.
The story begins five days before this Saint's death (in 1984) and proceeds through the same events that happened in the original story, through her murderer's conviction and eventual release from prison (in 2006) when he travels to visit Maria's mother to ask for her forgiveness.
The story's epilogue relates the actual events that happened in Italy from the time her murderer was released from prison, followed by a short biography of this saint.
The purpose of this book is to present a number of issues: One, that females have the power to refuse unwanted sexual advances. That males must respect females. Child-like virtue is commendable, and that no one should try to interfere with the welfare, safety, and sanctity of a child, and that everyone ?should understand and listen to a person who fears someone else, and children should feel empowered to know they can tell anyone if they feel threatened. It also relates the fact that, if a child is being abused, that this should be reported right away. It also presents forgiveness as a strength of character as Maria did as she was dying, and in the examples Christ portrayed many times in His life and also as He was crucified, and how He expects us to follow in His steps.
Two Salesian priests who still reside at Saints Peter and Paul Church of North Beach in San Francisco are featured in this book.
This book is currently available via the following online distributors.