One of the more joyful and attractive saints of modern times died on this day in 1925 at the youthful age of 24, Pier Giorgio Frassati, a handsome, young, athletic, talented Italian from an aristocratic family, carried away by the poliomyelitis he had contracted from his (mainly hidden) work with the poor, to whom he would carry food and necessities himself, making a detailed list of who they were and what they needed. Besides his charitable endeavours, Frassati’s talents were unbounded who spread the faith by his sheer charisma and energy: An avid mountaineer and hiker, scaling some of Italy’s grandest peaks; he could recite long sections of Dante with ease. He would attend concerts, get-togethers, rallies, but would only go to the new-fangled films if he was sure of their moral quality – he could not stomach impurity and vice, and was an immediate foe of the fascist-socialist regime of Benito Mussoini. Although he danced adequately, he never liked it quite as much as he put on, but good male dancers are thin on the ground, and one may surmise that it was chivalry that motivated him in many such things. Although in love once, he thought his parents would not approve of the marriage, and relinquished his hopes, a sacrifice that cost him dearly, as he once confided to his sister.

His chastity, purity and simplicity; his good humour and indefatigable help of others, (which really was his greatest joy); his devotion to the faith, to the Holy Mass and Rosary, his love of Italy and all things Italian, of music and song and the outdoors, attracted many to him – although I remember reading he confessed to not having a good singing voice, which, with a bit of what I hope is innocent schadenfreude, I was sort of glad to read, that this gifted man did not have every charism under God’s sun. Pier Giorgio has become not just a patron of youth, but a very icon of how one’s first formative years may be well spent.

Like Saint Thérèse, Pier covered a lot of ground quickly, and God took his sanctified soul to heaven while young, so to leave us, perhaps, with a vivid picture and example of goodness and perfection in its integral and primordial form, of body and soul, an image, however distant, of what we were in that primoridial Garden; so we will be in heaven, but in a far more perfect way.

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