This popular Italian saint's passion for confession led to one extraordinary confession in particular.
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Some saints really leave an impression on you. Maybe it’s their incredible sacrifices, devotion, or bravery; or maybe there’s just something relatable about them that you would love to emulate.
For me, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, is that saint. He models everything I would want my own children to have: An excitement for life, a desire to help others, a devotion to family — both on earth and in heaven — all while being a bit of a prankster.
Yet there’s something about the charismatic Italian that not many people might know: He loved to go to confession. In fact, he had a need to confess. And in the wonderful book Finding Frassati and Following His Path to Holiness by Christine M. Wohar, we hear a little more about his confessional habits.
According to Wohar, Frassati would often go to confession on a daily basis. But on one occasion he didn’t quite make it to the confessional.
Wohar shares a particular incident that Father Righini had told her while working on her book. Apparently while the priest was on his way to Mass at the basilica, La Consolata (in Turin), Pier Giorgio bumped into him at around 11 a.m.
The devout young man asked the priest if he “could have the pleasure of going to confession,” Fr. Righini shared. Caught off-guard but wanting to help Pier Giorgio, the priest looked to see if there was a church in the vicinity. In the true practical style of the young Frassati, he said “That’s not necessary, I’ll confess here on the street.”
The priest then shared how Frassati took off his hat, made the Sign of the Cross and began to confess. While Fr. Righini was distracted by the busy street, Frassati was oblivious to what was going on around him as he confessed, and “afterward, went on his way satisfied and happy.”
How beautiful it is to see that confessing his sins led to such satisfaction and happiness. His sister, Luciana Frassati, can give us some insight as to why her brother felt such peace after going to confession. In her book, Mio Fratello Pier Giorgio, she states:
“[Pier Giorgio] wanted to approach God more frequently to purify his soul, and he sought help from his confessor’s advice so that he could live the Christian life more deeply. Possessing the Lord’s peace, it was easier for him to suffer, to make sacrifices, to deal with the daily silence in our house and the harsh tests of charity outside the home.”
It is that very notion of “possessing the Lord’s peace” during this upcoming Lenten period that we should strive to achieve. To feel God by our side, lending support, as we make sacrifices in His name.
From a practical point of view, we aren’t likely to experience a spontaneous sidewalk confession. But there’s nothing stopping us from visiting our local parish to seek forgiveness and divine assistance with the same fervor as Pier Giorgio — it will also help us step out into the world lighter in spirit.