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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Pier Giorgio Frassati was born on April 6, 1901 at Turin, Italy. His mother was an artist and his father was the founder of the newspaper “La Stampa” and a politician who would become an Italy Senator and an ambassador to Germany. Early in life, Pier Giorgio became devoted to prayer. He joined the Apostleship of Prayer, and the Marian Sodality. When he was seventeen he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and devoted himself to serving the poor, the sick, orphans, and servicemen who were returning form World War I. He joined several political organizations to promote Catholic social teaching on justice to the poor and working class and he staunchly opposed Fascism. He studied mining engineering at the Royal Polytechnic University of Turin, wishing to serve Christ among the miners, who were poorly treated. With all his seriousness, Pier Giorgio was full of fun. He loved mountain hiking, the theater, art museums, opera, and hanging out with his friends. Pier’s family was well-off, and did not realize the extent to which their son gave himself to the poor. He would use his bus fare to help the needy and run home so he would not be late for meals. He stayed in Turin when the family went on summer vacations to their home in Pollone, saying ““If everybody leaves Turin, who will take care of the poor?” In 1921, he helped organize the first convention of Pax Romana, an association aimed at uniting Catholic students throughout the world to work for peace. In 1922, Pier Giorgio joined the Lay Dominicans (Third Order Dominicans). The cheerful young man, full of life and vitality contracted the dreaded polio virus in 1925, shortly before he was to receive his university degree. He neglected going to the doctor at first because his grandmother was dying; after five days of suffering, Pier Giorgio died on July 4, 1925. He was twenty-four. One of his last acts was to send a painfully written note to a friend, telling him not to forget to deliver medicine to a certain poor man. At his funeral, thousands of poor people whom he had helped turned out to honor him. His family was astonished for he had never paraded his good deeds to them. Many of the poor who attended the funeral were amazed when they found out that the humble, cheerful young man who was so concerned for them was a member of the influential Frassati family. Pope John Paul II beatified Pier Giorgio Frassati on May 20, 1990; thousands of young people were present at the ceremony.

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