BLESSED PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI
If you looked at those dates above, you'll see that Pier Giorgio Frassati lived for only twenty-four years before Christ took him to heaven after a heroic battle of polio. Romans 6:11 tells us through Baptism, we become dead to sin and alive in Christ, and there are very young men who had such an electric and vibrant and full young life!
Pier Giorgio Frassati grew up in a broken Catholic household in the early 1900s when Fascism threatened the Papacy. Conflicts between his father and mother created tension in his family. Pier became very vocal and active in politics at a young age, marching in parades with his buddies and lion-hearting against soldiers. In one Church organized protest in Rome, the banner was knocked to the ground by police and when his fellow comrade's faith was waning, Pier rallied their spirits by raising the banner and charging on.
Another night, Fascist soldiers ransacked his home. Pier threw a few good punches in defense before chasing Mussolini's men down the alley.
He embraced his masculinity too. Pier loved to mountain climb (and as an added sacrifice, would do so on an empty stomach), throw parties with his friends, quote Dante like no other, wasn't the greatest scholar in engineering (though he only did so because his mother protested his studying of the priesthood), worked in Catholic youth programs, and would walk many miles each morning to daily mass. His sister, Luciana, recalled how he would always be running late for breakfast. They would hear him tear up the steps to change his shirt, slide down the banister, and pause outside to catch his breath and say grace to not upset his parents, and then calmly enter the dining room to the beady glares of his disappointed parents.
Pier is a saint for modern times because he stood as the bridge between the Church and his home. His father Alfredo was the founder of the liberal newspaper, La Stampa and later became ambassador to Germany. His mother verbally proclaimed her displeasure and disappointment at his active involvement with the Church.
But Pier lived out his days in abundant joy. He knew the Truth and sought after it with every breath, and though at times, he went at it alone. His charity was born and bred in small ways, giving away train tickets to the needy, offering the clothes off his back to beggars, and tending the sick.
There is a little known story about when Pier fell in love. Laura Hildago was a close companion of his but from the lower class. Due to their conflicting social standings, Pier's mother adamantly opposed the courtship, and mirroring Christ's obedience for the Blessed Mother, he kept his love a secret. He never told Laura of the beautifully tragic conflict in his heart to protect her heart. So Pier loved from afar. The following is from a letter he wrote his friend, Isidoro Bonini:
"I am reading the novel by Italo Mario Angeloni, Ho Amato Cosi, in which he writes in the first part about his love for an Andalusian woman, and, believe me, I feel a lot because it is like the story of my love. I too have loved like that, only in the novel it is the Andalusian girl who makes the sacrifice, whereas in my case I am the sacrificed, because that is what God wills."
Pier contracted polio one year later from the poor he tended. He kept this illness a secret from his family because his grandmother was also suffering through her last days on earth as well. There is a heart wrenching entry in Man of the Beatitudes written by his sister, Luciana Frassati in which she writes the heroic faith this man had in his last days when he hid his own paralysis: Death was vanquished for just a few minutes by his vital strength and the youth that would not give in, and it was just like when he overcame the obstacle of dangerous ravines, of the cliffs, of the snow and difficult passes. It was just like the week before, as if he were going through the streets of Turin or were home studying...but that morning, that terrible morning. God willed that we should live it in its entirety. "Get up," commanded Dr. Alvazzi, and the patient's answer sounded as terrible and pure as the confession of a martyr: "I can't anymore."
At his funeral, his mother and father were shocked by the thousands of men and women who flooded the streets, a testament to his generosity to the poor.
We can all entrust our heart's desires to this man. If anyone will look out for our future husbands until our lives cross, it will surely be Pier.