“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” The Gospel reading this upcoming week finishes with this quote from Jesus. This passage reminds me of the many great Catholic men and women who have gone before us as we celebrate the great feast of All Saints Day this week. Although the saints have many different stories, one common theme in their lives is that they always give God the glory. They don’t live to be exalted by men, but rather they live their lives to exalt God and to show others God’s love and mercy.
I was talking to Fr. Pins the other day, and he told me the story of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Pier Giorgio’s life is an incredible story, and he was a great witness as to how we should live out our Catholic faith. I want to share his story with you all because Pier Giorgio epitomized a servant who humbled himself in service to others. As a little bit of background, Pier Giorgio lived in Turin, Italy in the early 1900s and was from a wealthy family. His father founded a newspaper and was also involved in Italian politics.
At a relatively young age Pier Giorgio had a dynamic faith and a deep spiritual life. When he was only 17 years old, Pier Giorgio joined the St. Vincent De Paul Society in order to serve the needy and later also joined the Lay Dominicans. He relied on frequent reception of the Eucharist and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for strength in living out his faith and mission of service. Pier Giorgio could have lived a life of luxury and had a high social status, but instead he dedicated his life to service of orphan children, the poor, and the sick.
Pier Giorgio cared for others throughout his everyday life. He would give his bus money away to people who needed it. Then he would run home but would sometimes be late for meals, which would not make his parents happy. One night when it was very cold outside, he showed up at home with no coat on. Pier Giorgio’s father was very upset with him for having no coat, but of course he had given his coat to someone who didn’t have one. When he received gifts of money from family members, he would give the money away to those in need. Pier Giorgio also made sure that poor children received the sacraments, and he nurtured them in their faith.
When Pier Giorgio was only 24 years old, he contracted polio and died very suddenly. It is believed that he contracted polio while taking medicine to a sick person who needed the medicine. At his funeral, the church was packed with Pier Giorgio’s family and his family’s friends. Because of his dad’s status in the community, those in attendance at the funeral were the wealthy and influential people in society. But when they left the church, his family saw the streets lined with people there to honor Pier Giorgio. These were the poor and marginalized people that he had ministered to for seven years. His family never expected this and realized they didn’t really know who Pier Giorgio was. They had no idea the impact he had had on the lives of these people in their community. Likewise, many of the poor who Pier Giorgio had served were surprised to learn that he was part of the influential Frassati family.
This is a brief snippet of Pier Giorgio’s life, but it shows the humility with which he lived each day of his life. He put the needs of others before his own not looking for any payback or reward. He lived a life of self-sacrifice in service to those in need. While he sets quite a high bar, what a great person to remember as an example of how we all should show Christ’s love to others especially those in need.
Word up. I am Stacy, the youth minister of this amazing group of teens. I have 4 kids of my own, 2 heaven babies and like 60 teens I consider very large children of my own.