by Maria Di Lorenzo
Pier Giorgio Frassati was born on April 6, 1901, in Turin, Italy. His father, Alfredo, was the founder and director of an Italian newspaper and a politician. His mother, Adelaide, was a painter. Mr. and Mrs. Frassati were not exactly ideal parents. Alfredo antagonized his children, and Adelaide was high-strung and critical. They attended Mass because it was an obligation. From his early childhood, Pier Giorgio was sensitive to the needs of others. At the age of fourteen, he began attending Mass and receiving Communion almost every day. Later Pier Giorgio joined the Dominican Third Order. Pier Giorgio's ministry was to the poor. Pier Giorgio's friends knew him as a lively prankster who enjoyed mountain climbing and skiing. He was also a social justice activist, taking part in religious demonstrations against fascism. In 1925, he contracted polio from one of his patients. By June, he was severely ill, but kept his sufferings secret because his grandmother was dying in the Frassati home at the time. He claimed to have the flu and his family gave him little thought. By the time his grandmother died, no one knew that Pier Giorgio was close to death. His mother, who stayed home with him instead of attending the funeral, criticized him for coming down with the flu at such an inconvenient time. But soon she realized that her son was very ill – and not with the flu. Pier Giorgio would die three days later. His last hours were spent in quiet prayer and in giving last minute instructions for helping the poor, who were always on his mind. Then, early in the morning of July 4, 1925, he died quietly after receiving the Sacrament of Anointing. He was twenty-four.
Pier Giorgio was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1990. The life of Pier Giorgio will impress kids more than many other saints because they will be able to relate to this athletic, adventurous youth and young adult. They will learn one of his principles of life: "Life must be lived well, following true and sound principles. It's never enough to simply get along."
Ages 8 – 12