Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901 - 1925)


He was a  layman who lived only to 24 years of age. He was born in Turin, Italy,  on Holy Saturday: 6 April, 1901. He was known for his profound spiritual life  from an early age, which manifested itself in many works of charity.

His works  of charity only increased as he grew older and reached the end of his  schooling. At the time of his graduation Pier's father gave him the option of  having a new car or the equivalent amount in money.

Pier chose the money. With  these funds he obtained a room for an elderly woman evicted from her apartment,  provided a bed for a consumptive invalid and supported three children of a sick  and grieving widow. In 1918 at the age of 17, Pier joined the St Vincent de  Paul Society and dedicated much of his spare time to serving the sick and  needy.

In 1919, he  joined the Catholic Student Federation and the Popular Party, a political  organisation that promoted Catholic Church teachings. Pier gave his time to  help establish a Catholic daily newspaper Momento that was based on the  principles of Pope St. Leo XIII's encyclical on social matters, Rerum  Novarum.

His  openness about his faith meant that he was deeply influential in the spiritual  lives of his fellow students, encouraging many of them to make the annual  university retreat given by Jesuits. In 1922 Pier joined the Dominican Third  Order choosing the name Girolamo after his personal hero, the Dominican  preacher and reformer of Florence's  Renaissance.

In late  June 1925 Pier Giorgio was afflicted by an acute attack of poliomyelitis, which  doctors speculated he caught from the sick whom he tended. His illness was too  advanced for treatment and Pier Giorgio died on 4 July, 1925 at the young age  of 24.

The streets  of the city were lined with thousands of mourners - most were the poor and  needy whom he had served so unselfishly. It was these people who petitioned the  Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause for canonisation. The process was opened  in 1932 and he was beatified on 20 May 1990.