Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was born into a wealthy family in Turin, Italy on April 6, 1901. His father owned a popular newspaper and was also a diplomat and a senator in the Italian government. This indicates not only status, but that the family was relatively well known. Pier Giorgio always had a heart open to all people, especially the poor, but if one looked only at the setting in which he lived his life it would not be obvious to see where his love of God and his love for the poor came from: his well-to-do parents were not religious at all, nor did they encourage any kind of spiritual life. In fact, his parents had no clue that Pier Giorgio was ever involved in helping the poor or that he spent hours in prayer either at church or in his room. Only his sister Luciana was aware of some of what he did, and while he volunteered at a hospital for the indigent, many of his actions were hidden. He bought food, clothing, and medicine to give to anyone he knew was in need, regardless of who those poor were. His friends knew he was generous, but his compassionate deeds went largely unnoticed until his untimely death in 1925 at the age of 24. But if we look past the outward trappings of his life, we can see that Pier Giorgio cultivated his love for Jesus and gratitude for the gifts God have him through prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. He allowed grace to inspire him to seek and to find the love and mercy of God that impelled him into action as if he could not resist reaching out to the destitute with great care. Let us be clear: what he possessed, we also have been offered. God’s grace was not unique to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, and therefore we can grow in holiness just as he did.
©Michele L. Catanese
“Verso l’alto” was Bl. Pier Giorgio’s motto. It means “to the heights” and is intended to be a call to do our best to attain the highest sanctity.
Images: The first is a photo of Blessed Pier Giorgio, one of the most well-known of the many photographs of him.
The next is a photo I took which is one of the 'spots' in which Pier Giorgio liked to pray in Turin. The painting is the Immaculata. He had a great devotion to Mary, as well as to the Eucharist.
The third photo is also one of my own, taken in Pier Giorgio's bedroom in Pollone in the Frassati house near the Italian Alps. The bed is the one in which he died; he actually died in Turin, but the bed was moved to Pollone since the family home in Turin is no longer owned by the Frassati family and is now a bank.
Fourth is an icon called Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati by Fr. William Hart McNichols. I chose it for somewhat obvious reasons, but I will say that it is a favorite of mine because it draws ones attention to the 'loves' of Pier Giorgio. He was a Third Order Dominican and so you can see the symbol of the Dominican Order which is above his left hand. He is pointing upward, as if to say "Verso l'alto!" He is also indicating his beloved mountains; as mentioned in the text he was an avid outdoorsman and mountain climber.
This icon can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/blessed-pier-giorgio-frassati-197-william-hart-mcnichols.html
Next is another of my photos, taken of the Austrian Alps surrounding Innsbruck, Austria. I have no idea if Pier Giorgio was ever in Innsbruck, but he always wanted to climb Mt. Blanc in the French Alps. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to realize that dream. I thought this photo would reflect his desire to climb in the Alps in a symbolic way.
Last is a photo of Pier Giorgio climbing in a rather dangerous spot, or so it seems. He apparently signed this photo with his famous motto, "Verso l'alto" so that is actually his handwriting on the picture.
You can find all sorts of information on Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati on the internet. I recommend Frassati USA: http://www.frassatiusa.org/
I also recommend going to their Facebook page to follow the journey of the relics (incorrupt body) of Blessed Pier Giorgio as it is being taken to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day. Bl. Pier Giorgio has long been one of the patron saints of World Youth Day.