Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in Turin, Italy in 1901. Despite being born into a wealthy family, Pier Giorgio was raised with humility and modesty, which shaped him into the generous man that gave his money and belongings to those in need. A lay member of the Dominican order, Pier Giorgio was an active participant in many Catholic youth groups and loved outdoor adventures. When he died from polio at the age of 24, his family was astonished by the thousands of people he had helped that came to his funeral. Pier Giorgio is the patron saint of activists, outdoor enthusiasts, students, and youth. His feast day is July 4.
Along with his big heart and dedication to the Church and his community, Pier Giorgio was known for his humor and love for the outdoors. He would give his earnings and belongings to others in his community. Humility and solidarity were clearly exemplified by Pier Giorgio’s actions, which, along with his bright attitude, led Pope John Paul II to call him “Man of the Beatitudes.”
Pier Giorgio was extremely humble. He didn’t shout out and make it known each time he donated his money to someone. His family didn’t even know of his service; they thought his funeral would be very small because they were so unaware of how many people cared about him, whom he had cared for.
After his death, the phrase “verso l’alto” came to be associated with Frassati’s memory. Giorgio wrote the phrase, which translates to “towards the top,” on the back of the photograph below. He died soon after the photograph was taken, and the climb pictured was the last climb of his earthly life. After he died, people began using the phrase “verso l’alto” to describe Pier Giorgio’s life – a climb to reach the true summit of our existence, that is, eternity spent in heaven.
Pier’s humility moves me to do more, but not to preach all my great acts of service to the whole world. His simple life has shown me that you can be holy each day just by recognizing how blessed you are, what you have, and what you can give. Helping and comforting those in your community can get you far, and although you may not get the recognition here on earth, you’ll be greatly rewarded by the Lord.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us. Help us to accept the courage and strength we need to give freely, love completely, and climb the spiritual mountain of Christianity as we strive to attain eternal life. Amen.