Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Patron of the Young People of the Diocese of Portsmouth
PRAY FOR US
BLESSED PIER GIORGIO, born in Turin, Italy in 1901, was so ordinary he was quite extraordinary. He came from a wealthy family, his mother being an artist and his father, the founder and owner of La Stampa the Italian daily newspaper. Neither of his parents were particularly religious and both were unhappily married. He had a younger sister Luciana with whom he was very close.
Pier Giorgio grew up to be a young man of film-star looks with a lively personality. A daredevil athlete, he loved skiing, swimming, horse-riding and above all, climbing mountains. He pinned to his bedroom door: Mountains, mountains, mountains, I love you! As a university student, he was the life and soul of a group of close friends, an association he founded called the Typi Loschi (the “Shady Ones”). He smoked, enjoyed a drink, played practical jokes, debated politics and fell in love.
But what made him extraordinary was his intense faith. A member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, secretly in the slums, he gave away his wealth and much of his spare time serving the poor: 'I see a special light around the sick, the poor, the less fortunate, a light we do not possess' he said. And early every morning, he went to Mass: 'Jesus comes to me each day in Holy Communion and I return the visit by going to serve the poor'. He often took part in nocturnal Eucharistic Adoration. People saw in his face, his joy, his purity, a radiance. His personal-passionate love for Jesus in the Eucharist was correlative to His intense love for Jesus in the poor.
It was in the slums, or more probably in his hospital work, that he caught polio and died after an agonising illness of just six days. He was 24 years old. To the amazement of his family, who knew little of his inner life, great crowds of the poor turned out for his funeral. John Paul II, who made him a Patron of World Youth Day, called him The Man of the Beatitudes.
Blessed Pier Giorgio was a genuine missionary-disciple of Christ. He was never without his Rosary, which he always carried in his pocket. 'I place all the clergy and people of the Diocese of Portsmouth, especially all our young people and those who educate them in our schools, under his intercession that he might present us all to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the prayers of the Rosary. For if we are safe in Her hands, we know we are intimately united with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory and praise per omnia saecula saeculorum'.
Bishop Philip Egan
Eighth Bishop of Portsmouth