VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI remembered Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, who was stabbed to death in 2000 by three young girls during a Satanic ritual in Italy.

After delivering the general audience in St. Peter’s Square Apr 9, the pope greeted the Daughters of the Cross and the laity that share the charism, "united today in the memory of Sister Maria Laura", who was murdered at the hands of three teenage girls in the small Italian town of Chiavenna.

The girls, two aged 17 and one 16, called Sister Maria Laura late Jun 6, 2000 telling her that one of them was pregnant and needed help. The sister responded positively. Upon arriving at the agreed location, the three grabbed her, stabbed her 19 times and stoned her.

Sister Maria Laura’s last words were that of a prayer to God asking for pardon for the three youth.

The Italian sister, said Pope Benedict XVI, "faithful to the total surrender of herself, sacrificed her life, praying for those who were beating her".

The Congregation for Saints’ Causes recognized the murder of the religious in March as martyrdom, thus advancing the cause for her beatification.

Teresina Mainetti was born in Colico, Italy, in 1939. She taught in the schools of her congregation, and at the moment of her death she was the superior of the community of the Daughters of the Cross at the Institute of Mary Immaculate in Chiavenna.

The girls, who at first said the murder was "a game", confessed later that it was a Satanic ritual.

Officials investigating the murder learned that the trio initially wanted to sacrifice a priest, Monsignor Ambrogio Balatti, archpriest of Chiavenna San Lorenzo, in their Satanic rite.

At that time, interest in Satanism and occultism had become a fad. Even dress, music and some books contributed to the spread of such a tendency.

Many young people followed more than anything out of a desire to call attention, to defy the rules. It found fertile ground in some because they were angry with God, perhaps because of personal problems.  Zenit

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