By: Nqobile Ngcobo

I often get saint envy. I look at the lives of saints and wonder what I can do to do something great for God. Perhaps give up all my possessions and join a religious order, or become a missionary spreading the Good News of Christ. All these things are radical and great, and yet God calls me to my ordinary life right now. It was always difficult for me to see how I could strive for sainthood through my own ordinary life as a 20 something year old, until I read about the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

Blessed Pier was born in 1901, to an aristocratic family, in the town of Turin in Italy. His father was a newspaper editor and politician, his mother a painter.  Both his parents were not particularly religious. His father was agnostic, and his mother was a lapsed Catholic who no longer attended regular mass. Despite this, from a young age Pier had had a fascination with the mass and particularly with Eucharistic Adoration. He would spend hours in adoration, often leading his parents to wonder where he was.

He grew up to become an adventure loving young man. He could often be found rock-climbing, and hiking with friends. He did not excel at his studies, but he worked hard and did his best. By all accounts, Pier was an ordinary 20 something year old.

However very few of his friends knew that Pier would often take the third class seat on the train, after trading his first class ticket with someone less fortunate. That’s if he took the train. On some occasions he would be found walking home after having given his fare to a homeless person. Pier was incredibly giving and cared deeply for those less fortunate than him. Most of what he did and gave remained unknown to his parents.

It was also Pier’s desire to find joy in every aspect of his life. He put all of himself into every activity he did. Whether sports, studies, or his activities in social justice.

He also put his all into his faith, often attending daily mass, and adoration. Living out the words found in the Gospel of Matthew, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

He was living out something that he had written on a photo taken of himself rock-climbing. The words “verso l’alto”, or “to the heights” in English. To the heights is where we strive to go in our relationship with God. He was always striving to go deeper in faith, higher in his quest for sainthood. Through Pier we see that in our everyday lives we can strive for sanctity by living out our Christian faith in ordinary activities. It is for this reason that Pope John Paul II called him a “man of the beatitudes who bears in himself the grace of the Gospel, the Good News, the joy of salvation offered to us by Christ…” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati lived out the beatitudes by living his life with complete love for God, and love for his neighbour.

At the age of 24, Pier contracted an aggressive form of polio from the poor that he served. He died three days later. His parents were expecting only the noble people of Turin to attend his funeral, but were shocked on the day to find the streets lined with the poor people of the city. They had come to lay Pier to rest. A young man who had cared for them, served them, and treated them with dignity.

From Blessed Pier, we learn that we must always strive for sainthood right where we are reminding us that God is in control and at work in every moment of our lives and we can respond to His love in every situation. To “Know that if it is in the kitchen, Our Lord walks among the pots and pans, helping you both internally and externally,” St. Teresa of Avila. He reminds us that life can be lived with a spirit of joy and fun, and that we can always give to those who have less than us. Blessed Pier lived his life to the full, not because he went off to be a missionary, but because he loved God, loved his family and friends, and loved and cared for his neighbour, right where he was every day. “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love,” Mother Teresa.

Strive to go “to the heights” in your faith. Each day, ask yourself, how you can love God, love your family, and love your friends better.

Verso l’alto – to the heights!

To learn more about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati visit https://frassatiusa.org/about-blessed-pier-giorgio-frassati

Image Source: https://frassatiusa.org/about-blessed-pier-giorgio-frassati


About Author: Nqobile NgcoboIMG-20160309-WA0009

I studied geology but I currently work in youth ministry. I love Jesus, coffee and pink roses. Above all, I’m just a catholic young woman trying to make it to heaven. I think St Therése and I will hang out there. I haven’t figured out how to adult yet, so until I do, I keep reminding myself that “Each woman who lives in light of eternity, can fulfill her vocation” – Edith Stein. Please pray for me, I’ll be praying for you.