St. Pope John Paul II beatified Frassati in 1990 and called him the "Man of the eight Beatitudes". Public domain

Speaking Out: Living by example of Bl. Pier Giorgio

By  Speaking Out, Anna Chelmecki
  • April 12, 2018

As I approach the end of my time in university, I have been doing a lot of thinking about those who have played an important role in my life through these years. Among those who have supported, inspired and encouraged me, one who stands out is Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. 

I was introduced to Bl. Pier Giorgio when a friend mentioned him in a faith study. She showed us a picture of him, which automatically captured my interest because, for a saint, he looked ordinary. He was a young university student, standing in front of a mountain with hiking boots on his feet and a pipe in his mouth. 

Since then, Bl. Pier Giorgio continued to pop up in my life, blessing me with his wisdom when I needed it most. Although he only lived to the age of 24 — dying from polio in 1925 — I think we can all learn some secrets to holiness from his radical way of living.

He showed me that living as a Christian should never translate into living a boring life. He had his fair share of suffering, but he was always joyful and full of zeal. He loved spending time with his friends, playing pranks on them. He was also known for his sense of adventure, especially in his love for climbing mountains.

Similarly, his passion for life translated to a deep and devout spiritual life. He grounded himself on two pillars: the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. From a young age he received the Eucharist daily and would spend entire nights in Eucharistic Adoration. He prayed the rosary as often as he could. His family often found him asleep on his knees holding his rosary beads. 

As someone who has struggled in the past trying to juggle numerous devotions, Bl. Pier Giorgio’s spirituality is an example of a prayer life focused on truly encountering and relying upon Jesus and Mary.

He was known for bringing his friends closer to Jesus, never ashamed or embarrassed of sharing the Gospel. His spirit of evangelization reminds me that I don’t necessarily need to go on a mission trip in a foreign country to share my love of Jesus with others. Rather, I can (and should!) share my faith with those who God has placed in my day-to-day life. 

Bl. Pier Giorgio also had an intense love for the poor. A member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he spent countless hours helping the poor and sick. When he died, thousands of people whom he had helped showed up at his funeral. The scene overwhelmed his parents and friends who had no idea of the depth of his work with the poor. 

Striving for holiness is not easy. However, Bl. Pier Giorgio shows us that we are all called to sainthood, no matter our state and place in life. If he has taught me anything, it is that no path worth taking is without its hardships. Verso L’alto (to the heights), as Bl. Pier would say, let us continue to climb our way to Heaven! 

(Chelmecki, 23, is a second-year Master of Teaching student at the University of Toronto.)

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