Frassati, Pier Giorgio, Bl.

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Lay youth, member of the Dominican Laity, patron of youth. b. April 6, 1901, Turin, Italy; d. there, July 4,1925. Pier Giorgio Frassati, marked by youthful vitality, optimism, and charity, combined a love of politics, sports, outdoor life, study, and piety. His agnostic father, Alfredo Frassati, founder and owner of the liberal Turin daily La Stampa, was appointed senator of the Kingdom (1913). His mother, Adelaide Amelia, saw that her children received religious training. Pier Giorgio began his studies (1910) in the state school in Turin with his younger sister Luciana, but was later sent to the Jesuit school (1913). The following year, he enrolled in the Apostleship of Prayer and the Company of the Most Blessed Sacrament. After graduating from high school (1918), he studied mineralogy in the Faculty of Industrial Mechanical Engineering at the Royal Polytechnic of Turin in order to "serve Christ among the miners." At the university, he became active in many Christian groups. He joined the Italian Catholic Students Federation (1919), the St. Vincent de Paul Society (1919), the university Nocturnal Adoration Group (1920), the newly founded Popular Party (1921) that promoted Catholic teaching based on Rerum Novarum, and the Milites Mariae of the Young Catholic Workers (1922). He became a member of the Dominican Laity (1922), taking the name Girolama in honor of the Dominican Savanarola to the surprise of many who thought of him as a sportsman or political activist. During his father's tenure as Italian ambassador to Berlin (1920), Pier Giorgio worked with Father Karl Sonnenschein to seek out and assist the poor, just as he did in Turin. There he also became friendly with Karl Rahner and his family.

At the age of 24, Frassati was stricken with acute poliomyelitis of which he died after five days of terrible suffering. On his deathbed he gave money and instructions to his sister to continue to see to the needs of the families dependent upon his charity. Thousands of the poor he had helped without public knowledge attended his funeral. He was buried in Pollone, where on July 16, 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed at his tomb. His body has since been transferred to Turin's cathedral.

Frassati's cause for beatification was opened in 1932 but suffered delays. Pope John Paul II beatified "the man of the eight beatitudes" (May 20, 1990) saying: "The secret of his apostolic zeal and holiness is in prayer, in persevering adoration, even at night, of the Blessed Sacrament, in his thirst for the Word of God, which he sought in Biblical texts; in the peaceful acceptance of life's difficulties, in family life as well; in chastity lived as a cheerful, uncompromising discipline; in his daily love of silence and life's 'ordinariness."'

Feast: July 4 (Turin).

Bibliography: f. antonioli, Pier Giorgio Frassati (Rome 1985). c. casalegno, Una vita di carità (Casale Monferrato 1990). r. claude, Le rayonnement de PierGiorgio Frassati, d'après les "Testimonianze" de don Cojazzi (Tournai 1946). a. cojazzi, Pier Giorgio Frassati, tr. h. l. hughes (London 1933); Pier Giorgio Frassati: testimonianze (Turin 1977). r. fechter, Frassati; leben eines jungen katholiken in dieser zeit (Munich 1935). l. frassati, La carità di Pier Giorgio (Rome 1951); Mon frère Pier Giorgio; les dernières heures (Paris 1952); L'impegno social, egiudizi sul carattere (Rome 1953); Mio fratello Pier Giorgio; vitae immagini (Genoa 1959); Mio fratello Pier Giorgio; la morte (Turin 1960); Pier Giorgio Frassati, igiorni della sua vita (Rome 1975); Il cammino di Pier Giorgio (Milan 1990). g. a. scaltriti, Pier Giorgio Frassati eil suo Savonarola (Rome 1979).

[k. i. rabenstein]