Pier Giorgio Michelangelo Frassati was born on April 6, 1901 in Turin, Italy to Adelaide Ametis and Alfredo Frassati, founder of the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
At a young age, Pier Giorgio embraced the Catholic faith and began attending daily Mass. By the time he was 17-years-old, he had joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society; serving the sick, caring for orphans and giving his daily bus fare to those most in need. The following year, he joined the Catholic Student Foundation, and promoted the Church’s social teaching based on the principles of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum.
In addition to his various ministries, Pier Giorgio loved the great outdoors. Mountain climbing was one of his favorite pastimes. And when he couldn’t leave the city, he we would take his friends to the theater, museums and concerts, often leaving early to make it to Eucharistic adoration. During his nightly vigils, he would meditate on 1 Corinthians and the the writings of our Dominican sister, St. Catherine of Siena. This eventually led to his organizing the first conference of Pax Romana, a Catholic student association working for universal peace.
Then a month after his 21st birthday, Pier Giorgio became a member of the Dominican Family, and received the white scapular of the Third Order or St. Dominic. As a lay Dominican, he had no doubts about his purpose in life. He was to be a man of the beatitudes, a title later conferred upon him by Pope St. John Paul II.
Like many of his peers, Pier Giorgio was a defender of the faith, against anticlerical Communists and Fascists alike. He believed that violence was never the answer and that “true peace is more a fruit of Christian neighborly love than of justice.” Leading a Church-organized demonstration in Rome during a period of great political unrest, he was “detained” and imprisoned. But this did not bother him, for he was able to use his time in jail to encourage his fellow prisoners, praying the rosary with them and providing much-needed counsel.
When he died of polio (which he contracted while serving the sick) on July 4, 1925, mourners from throughout Turin lined the streets, including Signora Converso, the poor woman to whom he had sent medication while on his own deathbed.
When his body was exhumed in 1981 in order to transfer his remains to the cathedral in Turn, he was found to be incorrupt. Eight years later, in 1990, he was beatified, receiving the title “Man of the Beatitudes.”