Saints

Pier Giorgio Frassati: A model of charity who annoyed his father

A great model for our young adults, he lived his faith with joy and and an open hand to all

It is typical of parents to try to mold children into whom they want them to be — to set them on paths the parent believes best for them — when in fact, it is better to encourage them toward becoming who and what God has created and called them to be.

One of our favorite things about Pier Giorgio, then, is noting how much (and how cheerfully and respectfully) he annoyed his father. Pier Giorgio’s father, Alfredo, was the founder and publisher of the Italian newspaper, “La Stampa.” His desire was for Pier Giorgio to follow him in journalism and publishing. Pier Giorgio preferred engineering studies.

But that’s not the only way Pier Giorgio caused his father to shake his head and wonder about his son. A man of some means, Alfredo would have first class train tickets purchased for his son’s travels. Pier Giorgio would trade in the first class tickets for third class, and give the cash to the poor.

Alfredo needed to continually replenish his son’s fine wardrobe — coats, shoes, boots — because Pier Giorgio would “lose” them to the poor. He’d see someone cold and give a coat; see someone barefoot and arrive back home without shoes.

Yes, he annoyed his father, a lot. He made what Pope Francis would call “a beautiful mess” of his father’s plans for him. His father didn’t get it until Pier Giorgio died unexpectedly:

Pier Giorgio’s funeral was attended by his father’s friends and associates, the elite of Turin; and the streets outside the church were filled by the workers, the unemployed, and the homeless of Turin, come to say goodbye to the one who had loved them so well. The sight was life-changing for his parents. Their marriage had always been rocky; at the time of Pier Giorgio’s death they had planned to separate permanently, but instead, stunned that their big oaf of a son had lived the life of a saint under their noses, they chose to reconcile. Pier Giorgio’s father returned to the practice of the faith, and when he died in 1961 it was with the benefit of the sacraments.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us, and for all of our young adults involved with World Youth Day 2016!

More to read: 10 Inspiring Quotes from Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati