Today is the feast of Bl. Piergiorgio Frassati (1901-1924), whom Pope John Paul II named as "Man of the Beatitudes" at his beatification in May, 1990. Following is one of readings chosen for his feast by the Order for the Office of Readings.
From a “Testimony” of Father Martin Stanislaus Gillet, o.p., Master General of the Order of Friars Preachers, Bishop.
In God he found the joy to live and at twenty-four years old he found the strength to die
Finding myself in Turin for the centenary feast of Saint Dominic in 1922, I had occasion to meet, in the sacred functions that were solemnly performed, some university students of the Dominican Third Order. All were nice, but among all of them one impressed me by his extraordinary face. From his appearance sprang a force of attraction full of sweetness. He was called Pier Giorgio Frassati.
Pier Giorgio took part in that select group of youths which today one meets a little in every university center, who have true apostolic temperament, with supernatural longing. He only had time to be a student; but already the man he might have been one day was presenting itself in him: not precisely an intellectual, that is a man capable of putting all of his life at the service of his thought, but rather a man of action, resolved to put all his thought in service of life.
By action, this young man intended “Christian Action”; and its dominion extended as much to the interior life as to external works, to the personal life as much as to family and social life. Action for him was above all to live; hence, to think, to feel, to love, to be lavish with all the resources and outbursts of nature and grace.
The center of action was in him, in the depth of his soul, in the heart to heart with the God of Love, whose presence inebriated him. There he found joy to live and, at the age of 24, the strength to die. All his life as a student he had been a pious young man; yet piety did not stifle the flame of his glance, did not cloud his brow, did not extinguish the smile on his face. On the contrary, everything about him shone with joy, because he let his beautiful nature flower in the sunlight of God. All the sentiments that make the heart beat in Christian inspiration found a home in his heart, in spontaneity and generosity beyond compare.
First of all he had his family, suffered in leaving it, exulted in returning. With the same fervor he loved his country—which he considered an extension of his family—and the Church as an expansion of his homeland into the spiritual world. These affections were not in conflict within his heart, but were harmonized and strengthened each other. He loved the Church: the mother of all. He willingly, generously, would have given his life for her. And in the Church, souls attracted him, especially those of the poor. To the hungry he gave the little he had: to the unloved he gave his heart; to the disgraced who know nothing of God and live in spiritual loneliness, he gave the example of the just one who lives his faith and attracted them to God who would satisfy them.
In the age in which the passions boil in the hearts of the young and threaten to break restraint, Pier Giorgio concentrated all the lively strengths and balanced them in his. Day by day, before God and man, he learned to conquer and control himself. It could be said that, without realizing it, he prepared himself for the mission of leadership, if it is true that to know how to lead others one needs first of all to know how to lead oneself.
God’s designs are incomprehensible, because he sees the height and length of things both as a whole and in particular far better than we do. Yet he has permitted us to think that, calling Pier Giorgio to Himself at a moment in which many who knew him had put so many hopes in him, God may have wanted his unexpected and sudden death to put the beauty of his life in relief, and attract the attention of youth to it, so as to take inspiration from it.