Pier Giorgio Frassati
6 April 1901 - 4 July 925
Lay Dominican

 

A brief biography.

 

Pier Giorgio Frassati was born to a rich and politically influential family in Turin on 6 April 1901. His mother was the painter Adelaide Ametis.

 

His father Alfredo Frassati bought the Gazetta Piemontese, founded in 1867, in 1895 and gave it its current name La Stampa, and a national perspective. For criticising the 1924 murder of the socialist Giacomo Matteotti, he was forced to resign and sell the newspaper to Giovanni Agnelli. He became the Italian ambassador to Germany.

 

Pier was tutored at home for years with his younger sister Luciana.
He prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. "He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ," Luciana Frassati writes.
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."
A pious youth, average student, outstanding athlete and mountain climber, he was extremely popular with his peers, known by the nickname "Terror" due to his practical jokes.

 

.He studied mineralogy in an engineering program after graduating from high school. He worked often with Catholic groups like Apostleship of Prayer and the Company of the Most Blessed Sacrament that ministered to the poor and promoted Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotion, and personal chastity.

 

He became involved in political groups like the Young Catholic Workers Congress, the Popular Party, the Catholic Student Federation, Catholic Action and Milites Mariae that supported the poor, opposed Fascism and worked for the Church's social teachings.
 

For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him. With this interest in the balance of contemplation and action, it is no wonder why Pier Giorgio was drawn in 1922 at the age of 21 to the Fraternities of St. Dominic. In becoming a tertiary, Pier Giorgio chose the name "Girolamo" (Jerome) after his personal hero, Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery Dominican preacher and reformer during the Renaissance in Florence. Pier Giorgio once wrote to a friend, "I am a fervent admirer of this friar (Savonarola), who died as a saint at the stake."

 

In his homily, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney spoke on 4 July during the Youth World Day 2008 in Sydney:

‘To deepen his spirituality he joined the Dominican Laity (‘tertiaries’). Even his practical jokes, sports and social life drew others to God. When Father Gillet -- eventually Master of the Dominican Order -- met him at University, he recorded that the young man deeply impressed him “with his particular charm. He seemed to radiate a force of attraction … everything in him shone with joy, because it grew from his beautiful nature to bloom in the sunshine of God.”

 

Fr Gillet thought Pier Giorgio rare amongst university students in his “longing for the supernatural and true temperament of an apostle… [ready] to think, to feel, to love, to be generous, with all the impetus and resources of nature and grace.”

 

Pier Giorgio was handsome, vibrant, and natural. These attractive characteristics drew people to him. He had many good friends and he shared his faith with them with ease and openness. He engaged himself in many different apostolates. 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.

 

As Luciana points out, "Catholic social teaching could never remain simply a theory with [Pier Giorgio]." He set his faith concretely into action through spirited political activism during the Fascist period in World War I Italy. He lived his faith, too, through discipline with his schoolwork, which was a tremendous cross for him as he was a poor student. Most notably, however, Pier Giorgio (like the Dominican St. Martin de Porres) lived his faith through his constant, humble, mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin. Although Pier Giorgio grew up in a privileged environment, he never lorded over anyone the wealth and prestige of his family. Instead, he lived simply and gave away food, money, or anything that anyone asked of him.

When he was at the Italian embassy in Berlin, he was admired by a German news reporter who wrote: "One night in Berlin, with the temperature at twelve degrees below zero, he gave his overcoat to a poor old man shivering with cold. His father scolded him, and he replied and matter-of-factly: "But you see, papa, it was cold."

It is suspected that he contracted from the very people to whom he was ministering in the slums the polio that would kill him.

 

Even as Pier Giorgio lay dying, his final week of rapid physical deterioration was an exercise in heroic virtue. His attention was turned outward toward the needs of others and he never drew attention to his anguish, especially since his own grandmother was dying at the same time he was. Pier Giorgio's heart was surrendered completely to God's will for him. His last concern was for the poor. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand, he scribbled a message to a friend, reminding the friend not to forget the injections for Converso, a poor man Pier Giorgio had been assisting.

 

 

July 4, 1925: Giorgio’s death.

 

When news of Pier Giorgio's death on July 4, 1925 reached the neighborhood and city, the Frassati 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.

It was these poor people who petitioned the Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause of canonization. The process was opened in 1932.

 

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

 

He was venerated 23 October 1987, and

beatified 20 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II.

 

From the homily by Pope John Paul II in the Beatification Mass of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati - 20 May 1990.

 

 “Speaking over the Pentecost the Pope says: “Pentecost, however, is only the beginning, because the Spirit of Truth comes to remain with the Church for ever (cf. John 14:16), endlessly renewing itself in future generations. Therefore, the words of the Apostle Peter are addressed not only to the people of his day, but also to all of us and our contemporaries. "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1 Peter 3:15). In our century, Pier Giorgio Frassati incarnated these words of Saint Peter in his own life.

The power of the Spirit of Truth, united to Christ, made him a modern witness to the hope, which springs, from the Gospel and to the grace of salvation, which works, in human hearts. Thus he became a living witness and courageous defender of this hope in the name of Christian youth of the twentieth century.”

Pope John Paul II called him: 'Man of Eight Beatitudes'.

 

 

Pier Giorgio Frassati patron of the 23th World Youth Day.

 

VATICAN - The relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925), a student and member of the Dominican Third Order who was beati­fied by John Paul II in 1990, were taken to Sydney, Australia, for the 23rd World Youth Day (WYD) celebrated in that city from 15 to 20 July 2008.

 

18 June.
At 6 p.m. on Wednesday 18 June, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy, and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia, concelebrated Mass in the cathedral of Turin, where the remains of Blessed Pier Giorgio are conserved. On the same day, the relics were transferred to the nearby town of Cottolengo where a prayer vigil was held.

 

19 June.

 

At 1.45 p.m. on 19 June, the relics were transported from Milan's Malpensa airport to Sydney.

At the request of the Australian organizers of the event, Pier Giorgio Frassati was one of the ten official patrons of WYD, according to a communiqué released by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The blessed from Turin is widely venerated in Australia and the presence of his relics is considered as one of the central features of World Youth Day.

On arriving in Sydney, Pier Giorgio Frassati's casket was placed in the church of St. Benedict.

 

4 July.

 

On 4 July, the saint's feast day, Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney celebrated the Eucharist in the church of Saint Benedict in Sydney.

 

From the homely given by Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney:

”When Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1990, he called him “the man of our century, the modern man, the man who loved much, the man of the beatitudes.”

The photographs around our church show a handsome, robust youth with piercing eyes and an infectious smile. Full of fun and energy, full of God and a passion for sharing God with others: on the face of it, his death at the age of 24 was a tragic waste.”

 

“To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth -- that is not living, but existing,” he said. As a child, he gave his shoes to a beggar. As a university student, he devoted his time before and after classes to working in the slums.

 

As a young man he gave his overcoat to a vagrant when the temperature was minus 12 degrees Celsius [10 degrees Fahrenheit] and when his father scolded him he replied automatically: “But Papa, it was cold.” Cold, of course, for the pauper; cold for Christ in that pauper. He gave away his bus fares and even his graduation money to the poor. When asked by friends why he rode third class on the trains he replied with a smile, “Because there is no fourth class.”

 

“It is good to do such things oneself, but even better to do them with others, with “a communion of saints” or saints-in-the-making, and so Pier Giorgio was a great joiner of groups. He loved companionship in a common cause.
 To promote Catholic social teaching he joined the Catholic Student Federation, the Popular Party and the student newspaper. To serve the poor he joined the St Vincent de Paul Society.”

 

11 July.  

        

On 11 July, the casket of the blessed was transferred to the Sydney Saint Mary’s cathedral where participants in WYD were able to pay their homage until 22 July. The area leading to the casket was hung with ten panels illustrating Pier Giorgio Frassati's life and thought.

 

A prayer vigil was held before his relics on the evening of 14 July, while from 15 to 18 July an exhibition dedicated to the blessed's life was held in Sydney Exhibition Hall, organized by the Service for the Pastoral Care of Youth of the Italian Episcopal Conference. After 22 Juli the basket of the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati returned to Milan.

 

Sources: Wikipedia, Patron Saints, Lay Dominicans, Vatican Information Service, IDI – 464, p. 197 Sept. 2008, etc.

 


 

Philately   

 

Vatican City 2008, Michel 1616, Scott -.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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