What’s not to love about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati? He is famous for his good looks, sense of humor, adventurous spirit, and devotion to Christ.
Born in Turin, Italy in 1901, Pier Giorgio overflowed with boundless energy, which he applied to his studies and prayer as well as to practical jokes and adventure sports.
Pier Giorgio died tragically of polio at the age of 24, but not before touching the hearts of thousands of people, including family, friends, and the poor and sick of his community. He was so loved that his funeral mass spilled into the streets of Turin and overwhelmed his parents with emotion.
Despite being handsome, outgoing, funny and fit, Pier Giorgio remained single most of his life. He had a female friend who drew his interest, but she was in a different social circle than the Frassati family and Pier Giorgio chose not to pursue her out of respect for his parents’ wishes.
Nevertheless, Pier Giorgio enjoyed life to its fullest. He surrounded himself with great friends, contributed to his community, stayed fit and active, and made time for both prayer and entertainment. He spread joy to those around him and he continues to do so by inspiring fellowship in young people worldwide. Check out this list to catch a glimpse of the many ways you can enjoy life in all its fullness…just like Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati!
Seek Out Adventure in Life
Many saints encounter God in the cloister—not Pier Giorgio. He felt closest to God at the top of a mountain. An avid climber, skier and hiker, Pier Giorgio spent much of his time outdoors with friends.
His adventurous spirit inspired him to seek God in nature and he often used outdoor excursions as an opportunity to share the faith with his friends. He saw each outdoor adventure as a thrill and always turned his attention “Verso l’alto,” or “toward the top.”
After Pier Giorgio’s death, many people began applying this mantra to their faith life. It is a call to focus always on heaven and to see life as an exhilarating challenge. It’s a unique message that appeals to everyone with a restless spirit and a thirst for adventure. Life has its ups and downs and each moment can be a thrill if we are willing to rise to the challenge.
Embrace Riding Third Class Instead of First
The Frassati family may have been wealthy and powerful, but they were very careful with their finances. They gave their children a small stipend to use as spending money, and nothing more. Pier Giorgio often had enough money saved that he could ride the train first class, but he always chose to ride with the third class passengers.
He used his savings to pursue hiking, climbing, and skiing. He felt that scaling a mountain brought him closer to God and His creation. Pier Giorgio also gave generously to charitable organizations in his community. He was quite detached from his family’s wealth. In fact, many people were surprised to hear that Pier Giorgio had money at all, so great was his humility.
Pier Giorgio gave a fabulous example of judicious spending and generous giving. It’s an example we can all emulate with our resources, as well as in our attitudes and interactions with others.
Lend Your Voice to Your Passions
Christ himself cleared out the temple with a whip, flipping tables along the way. Pier Giorgio was no different. He was known for being active in politics, and his protests against the fascist state seldom ended peacefully. But Pier Giorgio was not afraid to defend the faith, whether with his voice or with his fists.
Don’t get me wrong; Christ didn’t condone violence and neither should we. Regardless, our Church could use a few more young people with a fiery passion and zeal for the faith. Whether you’re chatting with friends or marching in protest, every experience can be an opportunity to correct misconceptions and share your love for the Church.
As Catholics, we share a passion for the dignity of the human person. It’s our job to defend the unborn and the marginalized in our country and beyond. Inspired by Blessed Pier Giorgio, let’s stand up for our beliefs and defend them with passion and courage!
Make Time to Serve Your Community
When it came to serving others, Blessed Pier Giorgio wasn’t picky. He cared for the sick, visited with orphans, and helped WWI veterans. He even gave away his train fare to others who needed it more…and then ran home!
He never passed up an opportunity to share his time or talents with those in need. As a result, the streets of Turin overflowed with mourners at Pier Giorgio’s funeral. Much of the city’s poor and needy came to pay their respects to the man who showed them dignity, joy, and love.
Many of his charitable works occurred on the way to or from a social engagement. He also joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society in order to commit a portion of his time to serving others.
True, Pier Giorgio had endless energy and seemed to have an abundance of time to pursue charitable works, but in reality, he was great at time management. He prayed during the night and spent much of his day studying.
Whether you are volunteering regularly or just on occasion, be open to the opportunity to act in love towards those around you. You may find that God sends people you way for assistance.
Find Ways to Treat Yourself
It’s no secret that Blessed Pier Giorgio had a lot on his plate. Besides being an outdoor enthusiast, political activist and social butterfly, Pier Giorgio was also a student. He spent much of his time studying for a degree in engineering—a task that didn’t come easily to him.
Nevertheless, Pier Giorgio also took time to enjoy himself. He went to museums and to the theater and opera. He enjoyed music and poetry and, of course, sports.
While God calls us to be holy and to help others, we are not all called to wear habits or hair shirts. Even priests, monks and nuns take time for leisure. Find what makes you click, and pursue it with the same zeal that you devote to prayer.
God wants you to have joy, and the worst thing that can happen to your faith life is burn out. Jesus went to weddings, drank wine, and dined with friends—you should too!
Be No Stranger to Hard Work
You’re probably wondering how Pier Giorgio managed all of his social, charitable, and political works and still found time to study and pray.
The truth is, Pier Giorgio wasn’t an A+ student. Academics did not come naturally to him, so he needed to become no stranger to hard work. He was also very fit and healthy, and was always willing to lend a hand whenever someone needed help with manual labor.
He served the Lord through hard work as much as through communing with others. Christ never promised us that life would be easy. In fact, he promised the opposite. In John 16:33 (NAB), He reminds us, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage; I have conquered the world.”
As Catholics, we are no strangers to trouble, and we can expect an uphill battle much of our lives. Like Blessed Pier Giorgio, we can take comfort in our work, whatever that may be, knowing that God has a reward set aside for us.
Spread Joy Through Laughter
“Tipi Loschi” or “The Shady Characters” may not sound like a social group founded by a saint. Believe it or not, Blessed Pier Giorgio organized the group to play practical jokes on his friends. He even wrote a comical handbook for the group and invented a patron to saint to govern it.
This same group of friends accompanied Pier Giorgio on his outdoor adventures. Their friendship was strengthened by humor. Although he worked tirelessly and devoted himself to prayer, Pier Giorgio never hesitated to laugh, nor to spread laughter among his peers.
When it comes to faith, we have a tendency to take on a gloomy attitude. It’s difficult to have a sense of humor when contemplating the Sorrowful Mysteries. Nevertheless, God desires us to have joy and to spread our joy to others.
Next time you’re feeling down, queue up a comedy on Netflix or browse some hilarious Catholic memes. Don’t forget to pass them along to your friends and family. You never know who’s having a rough day and needs a laugh.
You Have So Much; Be Generous
The Frassati family didn’t want for much. Mr. Frassati owned a printing business and served briefly as an Italian ambassador. Mrs. Frassati was a talented painter. They were quite wealthy and it’s safe to say they had lots of friends in high places.
By all accounts, Blessed Pier Giorgio came into a privileged life, but he never became attached to wealth. As often as possible, Pier Giorgio gave away his spending money to help families in need. He happily handed over his train fare, his lunch and even his shoes to people who needed them more than he did.
We can imitate his generosity by being aware of small, everyday opportunities to give of ourselves to others. Here’s some quick and easy ideas for incorporating giving into your daily schedule:
- Write a quick note for an elderly neighbor or veteran.
- Take a meal to someone battling illness in your community.
- Offer to babysit the older children of a new mom so she can rest and bond with her newborn.
- Keep a gift jar full of loose change. When it’s full, convert it to cash and use it to buy supplies for the local homeless shelter.
Provide for All of Your Friendships
Philanthropist, activist, mountaineer, student…Blessed Pier Giorgio may have been many things, but lonely wasn’t one of them. He surrounded himself with great friends and his charitable works caused him to be well-known and well-liked in his community. He often shared his love for Christ with friends and strangers alike. He no doubt found comfort in his friendships whenever his life began to feel chaotic.
God knows our need for community. It’s the reason he gave Adam a wife and the reason he gave us the Church. We are not meant to live in isolation. When things are going well for us, we want to rave to our friends. When we feel frustrated or discouraged, we need to vent.
Strong friendships are the key to surviving all of life’s ups and downs. Just like blessed Pier Giorgio, we need to make time to visit with friends regularly, or else our relationships are likely to go stagnant. Go hiking, see a show, or play a prank on your friends. Chances are they need the attention and the opportunity to laugh just as much as you do.
Cultivate a Network That Enables You to Do the Most Good
We’re in the midst of a social media boom right now and it’s never been easier to build a network of support to strengthen you in your faith journey. Blessed Pier Giorgio was an active member of many Catholic organizations that allowed him to meet, work with, and learn from many holy people.
Check out these organizations to find your niche within our Church and don’t forget to check out the Frassati Society: a network of young Catholics who get together to hang out and share faith and life, in the spirit of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.
- Catholic Action
- Apostleship of Prayer
- Dominican Third Order
- Marian Sodality
- St. Vincent de Paul Society
- Pax Romana
Center Your Acts Around Your Priorities
I mentioned before that Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was great at time management, but I think it’s worth visiting again. He balanced engineering classes, daily Mass, adoration, sports, and leisure all while volunteering and caring for his sick grandmother.
So how did he do it? To put it simply, he had his priorities straight. He valued prayer above all else and put it first on his to-do list. Next came his studies. Leisure came last, but he made time for it nonetheless. Many of his charitable works were spontaneous gestures that took very little time, but made a huge difference to the people in his community.
One of the greatest temptations we face in our culture is over-scheduling. We have trouble saying “no” and end up torn between countless activities and obligations.
Follow Pier Giorgio’s example and start at your foundation. Make prayer your first priority, then tend to your work and minister to the people around you. Don’t forget to leave time to enjoy yourself!
Consider Others First
Even in his last days, Pier Giorgio thought of his friends and family’s needs before tending to himself.
After catching polio from one of the sick people he cared for, Blessed Pier Giorgio came down with a fever and gradually lost feeling in his limbs. He continued to care for his ailing grandmother as long as he could. When he could no longer hide his condition, he claimed he had the flu and retired to bed to rest. He died after battling his illness for just six days.
Throughout his life, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati found joy in giving of himself to others. We can imitate his example by being available to friends and family, by noticing their needs, and by being generous with our time and talents. In the midst of difficult times, we can find renewed energy by sharing joy with a friend or tending to an ill neighbor.
Whether you’re at your best or at your very worst, look to the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio and celebrate your life by sharing it with others.