Editor's Note: Yesterday I put out a call on Twitter to folks who wanted to write for The Catholic Hipster weblog. Michael Ware was the first to respond, and so, we bring you his post on Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (a total Hipster, by the way) this morning. Keep an eye out for more posts from our growing team, as we work to turn The Catholic Hipster into the premier Catholic team blogging site in the land.
This is the first time that I won’t be talking about a Gospel passage or devotion; nope, instead, I want to talk about one of the most amazing young adults that ever lived. He’s also a Lay Dominican, and a personal role model for me.
In 1901, a little boy was born; he was baptized immediately because they didn’t think he could make it. His family was very well off; his dad a government official, his mother an artist and a painter. You would think faith mattered to his parents, but I am sad to say that it didn’t; despite this, their two children, our boy and his sister, were home schooled by a Jesuit priest. At a young age, while mischievous, he had a deep love for Jesus. He begged his Jesuit priest teach him about Jesus and the faith, so he did.
His parents and even his sister, his best friend, did not understand him. In fact, his parents emotionally abused him, and even had a priest come to try to tone down his faith. That didn’t stop him, in fact, it only made it worse.
He loved the poor from a young age; he would give his shoes, lunch and even his allowance away to the poor. He had his own group of young brothers who would pull pranks on people in town, all for fun of course.
He was extremely handsome and intelligent; he would read, spend time in art galleries with his sister, and even attend the opera. Above all, he had a tremendous devotion to the Eucharist; before hiking trips, he would spend hours, if not all night in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
He loved the mountains; he felt the higher he could go, the closer to Heaven he could get. He evangelized by making rosaries from blades of grass, and made bets with his friends when playing billiards (the bet being that they had to go to Eucharistic Adoration with him). He would go up the mountain to mass and down again for classes, where he wanted to be an engineer working in the mines, where the people were.
He thought about the priesthood, but he parents said no. He even had a girlfriend he was deeply in love with, but he broke it off for his parents out of love. He lived in a very tense, unhappy home, despite their wealth.
He worked for the sick, those with polio, and was a member of what we call the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). He was a tertiary Dominican who would stop and talk to everyone, giving them a smile as he lit his pipe.
He got really sick, but you wouldn’t have noticed, and died from serving the poor stricken with polio. He was respected by thousands of people in his town, especially the poor; when the poor of town showed up at his parents’ door, they were dumbfounded. After his death, his father was so ashamed that he could not even keep a portrait of his son in their home. He was 24.
His body has defied the test of time and has often been flown to the biggest Catholic young adult festival in the world (World Youth Day). He was nicknamed the “Man of the Beatitudes” by St. John Paul the Great.
Who was he? He is Bl. Pier Giorgio (Michelangelo) Frassati from Turin, Italy.
I don’t think I need to add anything else, because I think his life speaks for itself. I do feel several connections with this; we share a name (Michaelangelo), and almost share a birthday (he was born April 6th, I was born April 8th). As I get closer to my birthday, I don’t feel that I have accomplished anything substantial (at least nothing like Pier Giorgio).
I pray that I can make up for lost time, and like Pier Giorgio, you’ll go deeper in your faith. Let’s also pray that he is soon canonized (he had a recent miracle attributed to him from someone here in the states).
I want to close with this story about Pier Giorgio:
One time, Pier Giorgio was praying the Rosary; a friend walked up to him and said
“Oh, have you become a fanatic?”
“No,” Pier Giorgio replied “I have remained a Christian”
P.S.: If I am accepted as a tertiary Dominican, then I want to make Pier Giorgio my name.