‘Man of the Eight Beatitudes’

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By Melarie Mantanona
Saint’s Corner

Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati was born in 1901 in Turin, Italy to a well-off family. His father was an ambassador, senator, and owner of a newspaper and his mother came from a wealthy family.

Despite being raised in an atheistic household, Pier had an affinity for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. At the age of four during a Corpus Christi procession, flowers were being thrown towards the Blessed Sacrament and Pier, having no flowers, reached into his aunt’s pocket, grabbed a gold pen and threw it out on the streets saying, “This is for you Jesus!”

As he grew older, he started to attend daily Mass in secret either in the morning or in the middle of the night, trekking up a mountain for 45 minutes in the dark. After Mass, he would kneel bedside and pray a rosary; sometimes falling asleep on the floor.

He was a handsome young man, well-liked, and stunningly athletic having been a championship mountain climber, skier, swimmer, and involved in all sorts of sports. Sometimes, his friends would follow him to do a Holy Hour and while Pier went off to kneel by the altar rail in front of the Blessed Sacrament, his friends would fall asleep until the hour was over and they would all go out, having fun on their ways home.

They would always take trips elsewhere for adventures but Pier would only follow if there was a means to attend Mass, having sometimes paying for a priest to come along with them just to celebrate Mass.

He also had a great love of the poor. He would pocket train money and instead ride his bike to school. After saving up the money, he would buy loaves bread and pass it out to the homeless children in poor parts of the city. On his 18th birthday, he received a car but sold it the same day, splitting the money between the St. Vincent de Paul Society and to families he knew.

By the time he was 21, he was secretly supporting over 125 families financially in terms of clothing, food, rent, sacramentals, and the like. He was a leader for young people all over Italy and especially involved in movements against fascisms.

Pier’s picture was taken by a friend on his last mountain trip and on the back of the photo he wrote “Verso Alto” which means “towards the top.” A few weeks later, Pier visited a friend who was sick with polio and contracted the disease and died soon after at the age of 24. Ten thousand people attended his funeral.

He was named the “Man of the Eight ­Beatitudes” by Pope John Paul II whom also beatified him. His feast day is July 4.

There is so much this wonderful man did in his life that not only impacted but also changed other’s lives. He is an outstanding model for the youth and his famous phrase “verso alto” inspires people to keep striving to reach heaven.

Bl. Pier Georgio Frassati, ora pro nobis.

Information from Father Tim Deeter and photo from Catholic Exchange.