Denver Newsroom, Jul 4, 2021 / 01:00 am (CNA).
Pier Giorgio Frassati, born on April 6, 1901 to a prominent and wealthy Italian family, became a popular role model very soon after he died on July 4th of 1925 at age 24.
According to the website dedicated to him by the USCCB, for years he has been “a significant global patron for youth and young adults – and has a special place in the hearts of young people across the United States as well. St. John Paul II declared him a patron for World Youth Days and deemed him ‘the man of the beatitudes’ as he exemplified those blessings in his everyday life.”
These are 12 amazing facts of his short but very intense life:
– Despite being raised by agnostic parents, Pier Giorgio’s inclinations to help others manifested in his childhood. Once as a child, he answered the door to find a mother begging with her son who was shoeless. He took off his own shoes and gave them to the child.
– At an early age, Pier Giorgio joined the Marian Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer, and obtained permission to receive daily Communion, which was rare at the time.
– At the same time, Pier Giorgio was known among his friends as “Il Terrore” (“the Terror”) due to his fondness for practical jokes.
– At 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and dedicated much of his spare time to take care of the poor, the homeless, the sick and the demobilized servicemen returning from World War I.
– In 1919, he joined the Catholic Student Foundation and the Popular Party, whose principles were based in the Social Doctrine of the Church. He strongly opposed the rise of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini and was jailed in Rome after joining the protest of the Catholic Workers’ Association.
– Pier Giorgio would be notable for giving literally everything he had to the poor. He would even use his bus fare for charity and then run home to be on time for meals.
– An avid and accomplished mountain-climber, he saw many parallels between Catholic life and his favorite pastime. He would regularly organize trips into the mountains with occasions for prayers and conversations about faith on the way up or down from the summit.
– After what would become his final climb he wrote a simple note on a photograph: “Verso L’Alto” (“To the Heights”)–a phrase that has become a popular Catholic motto.
– At 24, Pier Giorgio became very ill with polio. Some of his friends believed that he contracted the disease from the people in the slums of Turin. In his last days, he whispered the names of people who still needed assistance to his family and friends who gathered at his bedside. He died on July 4, 1925.
– Frassati was declared “Blessed” in 1990 by Pope John Paul II, who called him a “man of the Beatitudes” and a “joyful apostle of Christ.” A year before, after visiting his tomb, Pope John Paul II revealed that he also had felt in his own youth “the beneficial influence of his example.”
“He left the world rather young,” he said, “but he made a mark upon our entire century.”
– In her biography of her brother, Pier Giorgio’s sister, Luciana wrote that “he represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful.”
– Pier Giorgio’s popularity is big among young people, especially in America. Many apostolates have been created with his name and he is currently regarded as the Catholic patron of Students (mainly because he wasn’t good at school), Young Catholics, Mountaineers, Youth groups, Catholic Action, Dominican tertiaries (he became one), and World Youth Day.
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