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WYD-FRASSATI Jul-14-2008 (600 words) With photos posted July 2 and 10. xxxi

WYD pilgrims learn about simple life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

By Catholic News Service

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) -- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's simple, holy life gives today's youths a needed example, said the former national director and chief operating officer of World Youth Day 2002.

"Every crisis that the church faces, every crisis that the world faces is a crisis of holiness and a crisis of saints," said Basilian Father Tom Rosica, the former World Youth Day official and current chief operating officer of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Toronto.

"If there was ever an age when young men and women needed authentic heroes, it is our age," he said at a July 14 prayer vigil, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and veneration of the body of Blessed Pier Giorgio in St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. More than 900 youths participated in the prayer service and listened to the story of the young Italian on the eve of the opening of World Youth Day in Sydney.

Blessed Pier Giorgio "was simply a young man who was in love with his family and friends, in love with the mountains and the sea, but especially in love with God," said the priest.

"Pier Giorgio dealt with some of our own contemporary problems and struggles," he said. "His love of God and his tremendous sense of human solidarity bonded him with the poor, the needy, the sick, the hungry and the homeless."

At the age of 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and cared for the poor, sick, orphans and wounded soldiers returning from World War I, he said.

"What little he did have, Pier Giorgio gave to help the poor, even using his bus fare for charity and then running home to be on time for meals. ... He often sacrificed vacations at the Frassati summer home in Pollone because, as he said, 'If everybody leaves Turin, who will take care of the poor?'" Father Rosica said.

Blessed Pier Giorgio almost had completed his degree in mining engineering when, in 1925 at age 24, he died from polio, which he most likely contracted from the sick for whom he cared.

"Not even in those desperate final days could he ever forget his closest friends, the poor," Father Rosica told the World Youth Day pilgrims.

The day before the young Italian died, "his hand already paralyzed from polio, Pier Giorgio asked his sister Luciana to take a small packet from his jacket and with a semi-paralyzed hand he wrote" a note with instructions for the sick for whom he was caring.

"His spiritual life, like ours, was based on the sacraments. But he went beyond simply doing what is required," such as attending Sunday Mass and the occasional confession before Christmas and Easter, said Father Rosica.

"The rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours, 'lectio divina' and annual retreats were as much a part of his life as skiing, mountain climbing or cycling," he said. "His life of prayer was his 'daily bread,' as it should be for anyone who desires to become a saint."

The body of Blessed Pier Giorgio arrived in Sydney July 2 for World Youth Day, marking the first time it has left Turin, Italy, since his 1925 death. It will remain at St. Mary's Cathedral as a focal point of the World Youth Day pilgrimage to the historic landmark.

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Visit the Catholic News Service World Youth Day blog at http://cnswyd.wordpress.com.


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