EWTN News

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
June 27, 2019
by staff
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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901 – 1925) was born in Turin, Italy. His father was a politician and the founder and director of the newspaper “La Stampa”. His mother was a painter. Even though both his parents were not zealous in their Catholic faith, from an early age Bd Pier Giorgio showed himself very devout. He made his First Communion at the age of 10, entered a Marian sodality of prayer and was allowed to receive Holy Communion daily, something rare at that time. He cared much for the poor and once, as a little boy, gave the pair of shoes he was wearing to the barefoot son of a poor woman who had come begging at the door.

Bd Pier Giorgio had difficulty studying, yet, because he felt this was his responsibility before God, he applied himself dutifully to it. He prayed often, offering among other prayers a daily rosary on his knees.

As a young man, he enjoyed hiking in the mountains and frequented the cinema and theatrical plays. He would, however, only watch a movie after first finding out its moral qualities, since he disliked vulgar and impure things. Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana, described her brother in her biography of him: "He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful."  Though he was happy and good natured he was literally a fighter for the faith. At that time, socialism in its various forms was taking roots in European politics, with public demonstrations frequently occurring in Turin and other cities in Italy. Bd Pier Giorgio thoroughly disliked the atheistic political parties sprung from socialist ideals and participated in the counter demonstrations promoted by Christians. When fights broke out between the two groups, he was there in the thick of it, defending his friends and his faith.  He even was once arrested for this.

In 1918, Bd Pier Giorgio joined the St Vincent de Paul Society and began his engineering studies. He wished to become a mining engineer “to better serve Christ among the miners”, he would tell a friend. When he graduated from college, he was given the choice, by his father, of the gift of a fancy car or money. He chose the latter and with the funds provided a bed for a man who suffered from tuberculosis, supported a widow along with her three children, and rented a place for a homeless woman. In 1922, he joined the Dominican Third Order.

His work among the poor through the St Vincent de Paul Society exposed him to their ill living conditions and he was eventually fatally infected with poliovirus, developing poliomyelitis. His last written note was from his deathbed, an instruction to a friend to take a certain medication to a poor man whom he had been helping. He passed away on July 4th, 1925, just five days after first feeling the symptoms of the illness. On the day of his burial, his parents, unaware of the countless people their son had helped during his short lifetime, expected many of his friends to attend the ceremony. They were greatly surprised, however, when they looked out the window and saw thousands of the poor and destitute of Turin waiting to accompany the funeral procession of their son. These, in turn, were surprised by the wealth of their beloved Giorgio. In his humility, Bd Pier Giorgio Frassati had hidden from the poor the fact that he was wealthy, and from his parents the fact that he helped so many people.

When, in 1981, his mortal remains were transferred from the family tomb in Pollone to the Cathedral of Turin, they were found to be incorrupt. Pior Giorgio was beatified in 1990 by Pope St John Paul II.