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Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who St. John Paul II called “The Man of the Beatitudes”[1] and a “living witness and courageous defender of hope on behalf of the young Christians of the twentieth century.”[2]

Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in Turin, Italy on April 6, 1901, the son of Alfredo and Adelaide Frassati. Pier Giorgio’s father owned the anti-Fascist Italian newspaper La Stampa and was influential in Italian politics, holding positions as an Italian Senator and Ambassador to Germany. His mother was an artist.

Neither of his parents were particularly pious, in fact, his father was an agnostic. But his mother saw to it that he and his sister Lucia received the sacraments. Consumed by their own interests and activities, his parents were unaware of the deep faith and spiritual movement in Pier Giorgio’s heart and mind, and his love for Jesus.

At an early age, Pier Giorgio joined the Marian Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer. He obtained permission to receive daily Communion, which was rare at that time. He assisted at daily Mass, received Holy Communion, and spent much time in intense personal prayer after Mass. He also had special devotion to the Blessed Mother. His intense spiritual life moved him to action. At 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society to serve the sick and needy. Like his father, He also became a political activist. But instead of following the steps of his father, he chose to pursue a civil engineering degree, much to his father’s disappointment.

The Frassati family was wealthy, although not particularly generous with money for their children. Pier Giorgio shared what he had with the poor. His father would buy him first class train tickets which he would exchange for third class, giving the savings to the poor. His father often had to replace “lost” articles of clothing that Pier Giorgio had given to the poor.

Pier Giorgio enjoyed an active social life. He was athletic, outgoing, and charming. He spent time in the countryside with his friends and mountain climbing was his favorite sport. He used these outings to discuss religious experience and commitments with his friends.

He understood the intimate connection between his spiritual life and his apostolic work. When asked why he performed so many acts of charity, Pier Giorgio replied: “Jesus comes to visit me each morning in Holy Communion. I return his visit to Him in the poor.”

Just before receiving his university degree, Pier Giorgio contracted polio, which doctors later speculated he caught from the sick whom he tended. Neglecting his own health because his grandmother was dying, he endured six days of intense suffering, dying at the age of 24 on July 4, 1925.

Until the end, his preoccupation was for the poor. On the eve of his death, he scribbled a message to a friend, asking him to take medicine to a poor sick man he had been visiting.

Pier Giorgio’s funeral was a triumph. Turin’s elite and leading political figures, as well as a large circle of family friends turned out for Pier Giorgio’s funeral. His parents were surprised to find the streets of the city lined with thousands of mourners as the funeral procession passed by. This was Pier Giorgio’s “extended family,” the poor, the sick and the needy whom he had served so generously for seven years. Many of these people, in turn, were surprised to learn that the saintly young man that served them so well was the heir of the influential Frassati family.

The sight was life-changing for Pier Giorgio’s parents. Their marriage had always been tenuous and at the time of his death they had planned to separate. Astounded by the secret life of their son, they chose to reconcile instead. Pier Giorgio had prayed fervently for his parents to embrace the faith and for their marriage to be reconciled. Through his Christian witness, his prayers were answered in his death.

Pier Giorgio Frassati was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 20, 1990. In his homily that day, the Holy Father summed up the focus of Pier Giorgio’s life: “Entirely immersed in the mystery of God and completely dedicated to the constant service of one’s neighbor.”[3]

His mortal remains, found completely intact and incorrupt upon their exhumation on March 31, 1981, were transferred from the family tomb in Pollone to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Many pilgrims, especially students and the young, come to the tomb of Blessed Frassati to seek his intercession and the courage to follow his example of faith, joy, vitality, and love of the poor.

Please join us in praying for the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati for marriages that are struggling that they too may be reconciled. May their marriages be transformed and renewed like the marriage of Pier Gorgio’s parents through his prayers and spiritual fervor.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us.

[1] John Paul II, Beatification of Pier Giorgio Frassati, Homily of John Paul II, Sunday, May 20, 1990, §5;

internet: https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/homilies/1990/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19900520_beatificaz-frassati.html (accessed July 3, 2021).

[2] Ibid., §2.

[3] Ibid., §4.