Perhaps you recall my column from last Sunday, I wrote about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a 20th century Christian, born in Turin, Italy in 1901, and in his very short life of only 24 years he learned and manifested what it means to live his faith. One of the biographies on his life, this one written by his sister Luciana Frassati gives us a very personal and beautiful look into the life of her brother, to whom she was very close, being born just a year or so after him. She gave the biography she wrote about his life the title “A Man of the Beatitudes” because he lived the meaning of the beatitudes simply and yet devoutly throughout his life.
Of the biographies I have read about him, I think this is the most beautiful because it gives us that very close picture of a loving brother and his sister, their friends and such a wonderful glimpse into their life, lived among their peers, all of the fun loving and so many of them touched in one way or another by Pier Giorgio, a true friend and though many of the same age group, a mentor, his life being a witness of gospel beliefs, and values that Giorgio lived letting each day be a witnessing to the teachings of Christ especially through his very deep spirit of charity to the poor and very often, forgotten by society in Turin. He sought them out, easily winning their friendship and trust. He always sought out the needs in their lives and used his own money to help buy their food, their medicines and whatever the need that brought Pier Giorgio to help them no matter what they asked of him.
Maybe you will recall that I mentioned last week that when Pier Giorgio was only 24 years of age, in June of 1925, he was stricken with poliomyelitis a dreaded and lethal disease. In just about one week’s time this disease took his life. But to show how fully he tried to live out the beatitudes even in the last day of his life, when he could barely keep hold of consciousness he recalled one of the poor of Turin who was very ill as well and Pier Giorgio had promised to go to the pharmacy and get this person’s medicine.
A friend was visiting him keeping watch as pier Giorgio was gradually slipping away when suddenly Pier Giorgio woke up and asked his friend for pen and paper. He wrote down a note to the pharmacist asking for the medicine for his friend and told the pharmacist to put it on his account. The friend went to the pharmacy and carried out his last act of charity for Pier Giorgio. When the friend came back and told him he had done this errand, Pier Giorgio gradually slipped into a coma.
I wanted to share a little more about this Blessed Pier Giorgio, and maybe you can share this little glimpse into his life with someone in your family, perhaps a younger member of the family. Let them read about this true hero of Christianity, truly a saint because he was a hero of Christian charity. Maybe later in the summer I’ll share a little more of the very beautiful life of one of God’s beautiful giants of faith who lived every day what the gospel teaches us. After all that is what the Lord is calling us to do as well.
Happy Fourth of July!