When the maid screamed, it only took seconds for 23-year-old Pier Giorgio Frassati to come to her defense. He quickly discovered that a group of Fascists had forced their way into the house to vandalize it. While some started to break furniture, another attempted to cut the telephone wires. “I threw myself at that scoundrel shouting ‘rascals, cowards, assassins,’ and delivered a punch,” wrote Pier Giorgio, who moments before had been enjoying a quiet meal with his mother.
Not only did his courage enable him to single-handedly chase away the home invaders that day, but his example enables us to cast off today’s sometimes distorted notion of holiness. There is a time for turning the other cheek and a time for standing your ground. The future “Blessed” Frassati understood and did both at a time when the culture was similarly toxic and intent on stripping away the masculinity of Catholic men.
His father, Alfredo, was influential in Italian politics, serving as a senator and later the ambassador to Germany during the era when Italy endured the rise of the dictator Benito Mussolini. Alfredo did not share Pier Giorgio’s profound love for the Church. Often described as agnostic, he was the classic fallen-away cradle Catholic. But he was a man of principle and honor and a true patriot. He resigned his ambassadorship and openly opposed loathsome politicians who made a habit of trampling on their consciences, as Pier Giorgio would say.