Saturday, 19 July 2008

Death takes a holiday*

Above: the label says this is a hat worn by Pier Giorgio in a photo of him on a bus in Berlin.

One of the official visitors to Sydney for Catholic World Youth Day is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati of Torino in Italy. Not that he is seeing very much, and jetlag wasn't a problem; he has been dead since 1925.

This is the first time he has been taken to a World Youth Day. I am not sure exactly why he has made the journey to Sydney, but I suppose it is because he was a young and fervently enthusiastic Catholic, chosen as a role model for young Catholics today? One website devoted to him describes him as the saint for the youth of the third millennium.

Frassati died of polio in 1925 at the age of 24. His father Alfredo was the founder editor of the main Turin daily newspaper, La Stampa, and later an ambassador and senator.
Pier Giorgio was an engineering student who, despite his privileged background, championed and aided the underprivileged. He was a fervent, joyous Catholic, handsome and athletic, who was a keen mountaineer, seeing the sport as an embodiment of his aspiration to higher things.

In 1990 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Beatification is the stage before sainthood (a second miracle is required for sainthood; there is an Australian nun, Mary MacKillop who has been beatified and claims of her second miracle are being assessed by the people at the Vatican who do these things. )

Pier Giorgio's body was exhumed at the time of beatification, and his coffin opened. His relatives say his body was intact. The coffin has remained closed in Sydney.

"The day of my death will be the finest day of my life." - Pier Giorgio

To my mind, if you're going to trot a dead'un half way round the world and worship at his coffin, then do it properly. Here's Santa Zita in Lucca - she's 736 years dead, and looking pretty good.

This newspaper article says: "He was propelled on his fast track to sainthood by a vigorous campaign by his sister, Luciana, who wrote several books about him before her death last year (2007) at the age of 105.
Pier Giorgio was recognised as Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1990. He had been the same kind of strapping, mountaineering, fervent Catholic as John Paul.
And it was no harm to his cause that Luciana had married a Polish diplomat and, during World War II, made risky journeys to Poland to help the anti-Nazi resistance."


  1. I worry about this blessed-to-saint process. "Worry" is probably the wrong word. There does appear to be a lot of earthly intervention going on in all cases. The world is full of insider-trading and lobbyists of all persuasions.

    However, that hat is to die for ...

  2. Yes - secret Popery business - the miracle - the mystery - Catch 22 - you can't open the box to check the truth of the miracle.

    Just the same as the Lady with Three Heads at Luna Park - with some other commonalities !

    Where is Dave Allen when you need him.

  3. Exactly oxdoggler. Have never quite been able to come to terms with viewing the glass enclosed bodies of Italian saints. They do hold a macabre fascination, as do Egyptian mummies.

    I have been smote for my blasphemy yesterday in taking photos of dissenters. I also annoyed a pilgrim by pointing out that freedom of speech meant that they had every right to dissent. My camera will not talk to the computer and I can't transfer the shots. Have a horrible feeling the card has been corrupted. Divine intervention?

  4. You are dead! That should be the end of it.

    Abraham Lincoln
    —Brookville Daily Photo

  5. And the question is: why did they to send Frassati's body far to Sydney?