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Father Anthony Ho

On his deathbed, Pier Giorgio was still serving the poor

Voices March 14, 2019

Although he struggled in school, Pier Giorgio Frassati was determined to become a mining engineer so he could “serve Christ better among the miners,” writes Father Ho. (fr.wikipedia.org)

Blessed Pier Giorgio Michelangelo Frassati was born in Turin, Italy, on April 6, 1901. His father, Alfredo Frassati, was a journalist and politician, and his mother, Adelaide Ametis, was a painter. Before Pier Giorgio was born, Alfredo and Adelaide lost their eight-month-old daughter, Elda.

Pier Giorgio had a younger sister, Luciana. He and his sister were tutored for a number of years and entered a public school in Turin. In 1913, Pier Giorgio failed his Latin exams, hence he was sent to a private school where he could complete the content of two academic years in one year. After spending a year in private school, Pier Giorgio rejoined his classmates in the public school.

The private school was run by the Jesuits. Due to their influence, Pier Giorgio joined the Apostleship of Prayer, the Eucharistic Crusade, and the Company of the Blessed Sacrament in 1914. He also began to receive Holy Communion daily. Love for the Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady were the hallmarks of Pier Giorgio’s spiritual life.

In 1917, Pier Giorgio failed his Latin exams a second time and had to return to the Jesuit private school, where he finished high school in 1918.

After high school, Pier Giorgio began to study mining engineering. He wanted to become a mining engineer so he could “serve Christ better among the miners.” At that time, those who worked in the mines were among the poorest and subject to some of the worst working conditions.

Pier Giorgio had a great love for the poor. At 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society to visit and serve the poor. He gave both service and money to the poor, sometimes giving away his bus fare to the poor and then running home to be on time for a meal.

To improve the condition of the poor, Pier Giorgio strove to foster the social teaching of the Catholic Church. He became an active member of the newly founded Italian Popular Party which promoted the Catholic social teaching based on Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Pier Giorgio enjoyed mountain climbing. He organized outings with friends and would invite them to Mass, scriptural reading, and recitation of the Rosary. Pier Giorgio also loved music and art, and would go to the theatre, opera, and museums.

In 1922, Pier Giorgio became a member of the Third Order Dominicans, taking the name “Girolamo.”

A week before his death, Pier Giorgio made a list of all the exams needed to complete university. But before obtaining his degree, Pier Giorgio contracted polio, which doctors later speculated he caught from the sick whom he tended. After six days of intense suffering, Pier Giorgio died on July 4, 1925 at the age of 24.

Before his death, he was still concerned about the well-being of the poor whom he had been visiting. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand, Pier Giorgio scribbled a message to a friend, asking him to bring to a poor sick man the medicine needed for injections.

At the funeral of Pier Giorgio many poor and needy unknown to the family showed up to pay respect to the young man who had served them with dedication. In 1981, when the body of Pier Giorgio was exhumed on March 31, 1981, it was found to be intact and incorrupt. He was beatified by St. John Paul II on May 20, 1990.

When he died, Pier Giorgio was two exams short of completing his university degree. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, April 6, 2001, the Royal Polytechnic Institute of Turin passed a special resolution posthumously granting him the degree in mining engineering. 


                                       伯鐸.喬治服務貧民 

真福伯鐸.喬治.彌格.弗薩棣在1901年4月6日出生於意大利都靈。父親阿弗雷多.弗薩棣是作家及政治家,母親阿德萊德.阿米提詩是畫家。阿弗雷多夫婦二人的首胎女兒埃爾達在八個月大時夭折,除後先後生育了兒子伯鐸.喬治和幼女路濟亞納。

就讀都靈公校前,伯鐸.喬治和妹妹均在家中接受私人教導數年。1913年,伯鐸.喬治的拉丁文考試不合格,被送到私校在一年完成兩年的課程,之後重入公校繼續學業。

伯鐸.喬治受到主辦私校的耶穌會會士影響,因而在1914年參加了祈禱宗會、聖體十字軍和聖體之友幾個善會,也開始每日領聖體。熱愛聖體和恭敬聖母是伯鐸.喬治靈修生活的特徵。

1917年,伯鐸.喬治第二次拉丁文考試不合格,又要回到那耶穌會會士辦的私校讀書,直到1918年中學畢業。他有意進入大學,主修採礦工程科目,為的是「能好好在礦工間侍奉基督」。礦工當時是最貧窮階層,而且要在最惡劣環境中工作。

伯鐸.喬治十分關心貧苦大眾;十七歲那年,他加入了聖雲先會,常探訪貧窮的人,出錢出力服務他們。有時,伯鐸.喬治會把交通費捐給窮人,然後跑回家,好能依時用飯。

伯鐸.喬治設法利用天主教倡議的社會訓導,促進改善社會的貧窮狀況。不久,他成為新成立的意大利普愛黨活躍的的一員,與同伴一起按教宗良十三世有關勞工問題頒發的「新事通諭」,推動天主教的社會訓導。

伯鐸.喬治喜愛攀山,常和朋友組織戶外活動,也不忘邀請他們參與彌撒、閱讀聖經和誦唸玫瑰經。他又喜愛音樂和藝術:戲院、劇院及博物館,會常見到他的足蹟。

1922年,伯鐸.喬治加入道明第三會,取名哲樂肋慕。

積極準備完成大學文憑時,伯鐸.喬治卻因染病患上脊髓灰質炎,身體承受著極大疼痛折磨,六天後、1925年7月4日病逝,終年二十四歲。他死前仍表現出對貧苦者的關愛,嘗用半癱瘓的手給朋友發字條,請他把注射的藥物帶給一位患病的窮人。

出殯當日,大批貧民出席伯鐸.喬治的喪禮,向這位對他們推心置腹的年青人,表達謝意和敬意。1981年3月31日開棺時,伯鐸.喬治的屍身仍完好無缺,沒有朽爛。

雖然伯鐸.喬治還有兩次必須的考試無法及時完成,在他一百週年冥壽、2001年4月6日,都靈皇家理工大學通過特別決議,正式向他頒發採礦工程大學文憑。