Pier Giorgio Frassati

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Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, T.O.S.D.
Pgf2.jpg
Frassati in his father's office, ca. 1920
Born(1901-04-06)6 April 1901
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
Died4 July 1925(1925-07-04) (aged 24)
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
Honored inRoman Catholicism
(Dominican Order)
Beatified20 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II
Feast4 July
 
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Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, T.O.S.D.
Pgf2.jpg
Frassati in his father's office, ca. 1920
Born(1901-04-06)6 April 1901
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
Died4 July 1925(1925-07-04) (aged 24)
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
Honored inRoman Catholicism
(Dominican Order)
Beatified20 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II
Feast4 July

The Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, T.O.S.D., was an Italian Catholic social activist, who was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. He has been beatified by the Roman Catholic Church.

Biography[edit]

Frassati was born in Turin into a prominent family, which owned the noted liberal newspaper called La Stampa. His father, an agnostic, had founded the newspaper and was active in national politics. He served in the Italian Senate and was later their country's ambassador to Germany.[1] Though an average student, he was known among his peers for his devotion and piety.

Frassati was dedicated to works of social action, charity, prayer and community. He was involved with Catholic youth and student groups, the Apostleship of Prayer, Catholic Action, and was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. He would often say, "Charity is not enough; we need social reform."[1] He helped establish a newspaper entitled Momento, whose principles were based on Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum. He joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society in 1918 and spent much of his time helping the poor.

Despite his family's privileged status, Frassati's father was frugal and never gave his children too much spending money. Pier Giorgio, however, gave much of his money to people he saw as more "needy" than he was, often giving his train fare to the poor and walking back home or riding in third class. He would also literally give the poor the clothes off his back, returning home without the sweater or jacket he had been wearing when he left.

Regardless of the many organizations to which Frassati belonged, he was not a passive "joiner"; records show that he was active and involved in each, fulfilling all the duties of membership. He was strongly anti-fascist and did nothing to hide his political views.

Participating in a Church-organized demonstration in Rome, Frassati withstood police violence and rallied the other young people by grabbing the banner which the police had knocked out of someone else's hands. He held it even higher while using the pole to ward off their blows. When the demonstrators were arrested by the police, he refused special treatment that he might have received because of his father's political position, preferring to stay with his friends. One night a group of fascists broke into his family's home to attack him and his father, but Frassati beat them single-handedly, chasing them down the street.

Frassati died in 1925 of poliomyelitis. His family expected Turin's elite and political figures to come to offer their condolences and attend the funeral; they naturally expected to find many of his friends there as well. They were surprised, however, to find the streets of the city lined with thousands of mourners as the cortege passed by, out of the reverence felt for him among the many people he had directly helped during his brief life. He was buried in the family crypt in the Pollone Cemetery of the city.[2]

Veneration[edit]

The poor of the city began to petition the Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause for Frassati's canonization. The process was opened in 1932 and a thorough examination of his life began. In 1989 Pope John Paul II visited his tomb and paid honor to him, calling him a man of the Beatitudes. That same pope beatified him on 20 May 1990.

After this, Frassati's body was transferred from the family crypt for re-interment in the Cathedral of Turin, where it is available for the veneration of the public.[2]

Frassati's feast day is celebrated on 4 July by the Dominican Order.

Frassati is the namesake and patron of Frassati Catholic Academy in Wauconda, IL, a middle school founded in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2010,[3] and also Frassati Catholic High School, which opened August 2013 in Houston, Texas, in the United States.[4]

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Catholic School will be opening as part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board on 3 September 2013 in the Scarborough area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[5]

Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma, the United States, awards the "Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Award" to its students who have performed an extraordinary level of service to others.[6]

Frassati Australia, based in Brisbane, Australia, venerates Pier Giorgio Frassati as their patron and as a role model for young men. Frassati Australia engages young men in the Catholic faith and encourages them to encounter Christ through living an authentic Catholic life in brotherhood and charity. Currently, there are at least three Frassati Houses in Brisbane and around twelve young men in these houses.[7]

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