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Westfield church hosts remains of patron saint for national tour, thousands expected

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WESTFIELD, Ind. (Oct. 20, 2015) -- Westfield's Saint Maria Goretti Church is hosting the remains and relics of its patron saint.

Church leaders expect between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors Tuesday. Westfield police will be on Spring Mill Road and 169th Street to help steer traffic through the area. This will be the only stop made in Indiana as part of a national tour started by Pope Francis when he announced his visit to the U.S.

The tour started in September and will conclude in Oklahoma in a few weeks before the remains return to Italy. Maria Goretti is the Catholic Church's youngest saint, an 11-year-old girl attacked and stabbed by a neighbor. She forgave him on her deathbed.

Six years into her attacker's 20-year prison sentence, he had a dream about her and vowed to live a life of holiness. He served as a Franciscan lay brother.

Father Kevin Haines from Westfield's Saint Maria Goretti Church petitioned to host a stop on the national tour so people could have a chance to see the church's patron saint.

"The healing power, the grace, the example that the saints are to all of us isn't just for Catholics, it's for all of us, even for people who have questionable faith or even no faith at all," Haines said.

The viewing of the relics will start at 11 a.m. and last until 11 p.m. Tuesday at Saint Maria Goretti Church, 17102 Spring Mill Rd., Westfield.