Blessed Pier Gorgio Frassati (1901-1924)
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world, and especially for the young people of our time. Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, Pier Giorgio was a model of virtue, a “man of the beatitudes,” as Pope John Paul II called him at the saint’s beatification ceremony in 1990. He was described by friends as “an explosion of joy.”
Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. Pier Giorgio prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. “Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration.” For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer.
Pier Giorgio had many attractive characteristics that drew people to him. He shared his faith with ease and openness. He engaged himself in many different good works. Pier Giorgio also loved sports. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hiking, riding horses, skiing, and mountain climbing. He was never one to pass on playing a practical joke, either. He relished laughter and good humor.
He put his faith into action. He was involved in politics during the Fascist period in World War I Italy. He was disciplined with his school work, which he sometimes found difficult. Most notably, however, Pier Giorgio lived his faith through his constant, humble, mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin. He lived simply and gave away food, money, or anything that anyone asked of him. It is suspected that he contracted from the very people to whom he was ministering in the slums the polio that would kill him.
Pier Giorgio died on July 4, 1925. His parents, who had no idea about the generous self-donation of their young son, were astonished by the sight of thousands of people crowded outside their mansion on the day of their son’s funeral mass and burial. The poor, the lonely, and those who had been touched by Pier Giorgio’s love and faithful example had come to pay homage to this luminous model of Christian living.
Pier Giorgio’s mortal remains were found incorrupt in 1981 and were transferred from the family tomb in the cemetery of Pollone to the Cathedral of Turin.
His feast day is July 4.