Today Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is celebrated, an athlete who influenced Saint John Paul II

Jasjot Singh

Today, July 4, we celebrate Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young Italian layman, known by many as the “patron saint of mountaineers”, for his love of practicing this sport. Saint John Paul II once shared his own experience in relation to the Blessed: “When I was young, I too felt the beneficial influence of his example and, as a student, I was impressed by the strength of his witness”.

Pier Giorgio was born in Turin, Italy, on April 6, 1901. He grew up in a wealthy family. His father was the founder and director of the famous Italian newspaper La Stampa, and his mother a talented painter. It was she who was concerned that Pier Giorgio receive and be educated in the faith.

During his adolescence, the young man from Turin cultivated a deep spiritual and apostolic life. He became an active member of Catholic Action, the Apostleship of Prayer, the Eucharistic League and the Association of Young University Worshipers. In all these organizations he showed a growing commitment that led him to become aware of poverty. For Pier Giorgio to serve a poor person was to serve Jesus himself. In 1922, after a period of discernment, he entered the lay branch of the Dominicans. A year later -May 1923- he makes his vows as a lay Dominican.

Although he did not have the support of his parents, Pier Giorgio decided to study Mechanical Industrial Engineering. He really liked the idea of ​​being able to make his profession something that contributes to the well-being of others, especially those most in need. The young man wanted to be at the side of the poor workers, their circumstances and their desire to progress. He entered the Polytechnic of Turin, where he founded a circle of young people with his closest friends, who sought to make Christ the center of his friendship. Together with them he baptized the group as “i tipi loschi” (“the suspicious guys”). Obviously, behind the joke of the name was the deep desire to forge a Christian friendship; because he never missed the opportunity to take his friends to the Holy Mass, and to initiate them in the reading of the Holy Scriptures and the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

Pier Giorgio led an austere life and constantly allocated his money to charity, something that his parents did not like too much, so they decided to limit his financial resources. The young man managed not to stop sharing what he had, even if he had to walk long hours every day to save money on the streetcar. In what lay her strength and his courage? In the daily communion that he loved and in the frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Young Frassati had become a man of prayer.

The Blessed was a great athlete, skier and mountaineer. He climbed the Alps and the Aosta Valley. If something characterized his spirit, it was the love for nature and the desire to be in contact with it. For him God was always present in his creative work.

The end of his life was dizzying. At the age of 24, he was diagnosed with fulminant poliomyelitis, a disease that led to his death in just one week. He left for the Father’s house on July 4, 1925. His funeral gathered many people and became a beautiful surprise for his parents, given the crowd that gathered gratefully, in which the poorest friends of him stood out.

Saint John Paul II beatified him in 1990 and stressed that “he (Frassati) proclaims, by his example, that the life that is led with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Beatitudes, is ‘holy’, and that only those who become ‘ man of the Beatitudes’ manages to communicate love and peace to his brothers… He repeats that it is truly worth sacrificing everything to serve the Lord. He testifies that holiness is possible for everyone and that only the revolution of charity can kindle in the hearts of men the hope of a better future”.

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