The three girls made Mainetti kneel and shouted abuse at her. One girl beat the 60-year-old sister with a brick and another pushed her head repeatedly into a wall.
They took turns stabbing Mainetti 19 times with a kitchen knife. They had, according to Italian media reports, intended to stab her 18 times, six times each, to form by their violence the number 666.
Sr. Mainetti prayed throughout the attack and asked God to forgive the girls for their actions.
Her last words, according to some accounts of her death, were “Lord, forgive them.”
The three girls later admitted that they killed her as a demonic ritual. They confessed that they had originally planned to kill the parish priest, but decided that because he was larger, it would prove too difficult. Investigators said the girls’ notebooks were filled with Satanic writings, and that they had made a blood oath some months earlier.
Mainetti's killers were convicted and imprisoned. The killers have since been freed from prison, and have started families -- changing their names and moving to large Italian cities, according to Corriere della Sera.
One of the girls who killed Mainetti wrote a letter to her religious community after her conviction. Milena De Giambattista said in the letter that the memory of Sr. Mainetti forgiving her as she was killing her has stayed with her.
“I can have of her only a memory of love. And in addition to this, it also allowed me to believe in something that is neither God nor Satan, but which was a simple woman who defeated evil,” Milena wrote.
“Now in her I find comfort and the grace to endure everything. I always pray and I am sure she will help me become a better person.”
After her release from prison in 2006, Milena was a guest for several years of the Exodus communities in the area of Verona -- residences for the prevention and treatment of drug addiction, founded by Fr. Antonio Mazzi.
Mazzi once said, as recounted by Amedeo Mainetti, the murdered nun’s brother, that Milena “is fully aware of what she did and at the same time repentant and convinced that she can be reborn and recover better and better.”
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In Sr. Mainetti’s diary on the day of her perpetual profession of vows, she wrote: “Give me your feelings, Jesus, those of the Beatitudes: the poor who trusts, abandons himself/the child who feels loved by him/the affliction that is participation in that of Christ and is salvation/Mercy, Benevolence, Purity of body and heart, Humility.”
“To serve Christ is to reign: Here I am… The joy of my service every instant in conformity with Your Divine Will.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.