Monday, July 4, 2011






VATICAN CITY, 2 JUL 2011 (VIS) - At the end of a luncheon today, offered by the College of Cardinals to the Pope to mark the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination as a priest, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College, congratulated the Holy Father and, in the name of all those present, gave him an offering for the poor of Rome, the Pope's own diocese, "in view", he said, "of the urgent needs of so many Romans, as well as of numerous immigrants and refugees". (image source: Radio Vaticana)

The Holy Father, having thanked the cardinals for their gift, made some remarks. "This is a moment of gratitude for the Lord's guidance; for everything He has given me and forgiven me over these years", he said. "Yet it is also a moment to remember. In 1951 the world was completely different: there was no television, there was no internet, there were no computers, there were no mobile phones. The world from which we come truly seems prehistoric. Above all, our cities were in ruins, the economy destroyed, there was great material and spiritual poverty. Yet there was also a great energy and a will to rebuild this country and to renew ... the community on the foundation of our faith".

"Then came Vatican Council II where all the hopes we had seemed to come true. This was followed by the cultural revolution of 1968, difficult years during which the ship of the Lord appeared to be taking on water, almost about to sink. Nonetheless the Lord, Who seemed then to be sleeping, was present and He led us forward. Those were the unforgettable years in which I worked alongside Blessed Pope John Paul II. Finally, came the unexpected day of 19 April 2005 when the Lord called me to a new task and, only by virtue of His strength, abandoning myself to Him, was I able at that moment to say 'yes'.

"Over these sixty years nearly everything has changed; but the Lord's faithfulness has remained", the Holy Father added in conclusion. "He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. This is our certainty, which shows us the way to the future. The time to remember, the time of gratitude, is also the time of hope".

.../ VIS 20110704 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 2 JUL 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father greeted faithful from the Italian diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, which is currently celebrating its diocesan synod. The group was accompanied by their bishop, Msgr. Mario Paciello.

"A synod is an event which gives us concrete experience of being the 'People of God', of being Church, a pilgrim community travelling in history towards its eschatological fulfilment in God", said the Pope. "This means we must recognise that the Church does not of herself possess the vital principle: she depends on Christ, of Whom she is the effective sign and instrument. In her relationship with the Lord Jesus lies her deepest identity: that of being a gift of God to humankind, which prolongs the presence and salvific work of the Son through the Holy Spirit. In this perspective we can see that the Church is essentially a mystery of love at the service of humanity, with a view to its sanctification. ... Being Church has its source and its true meaning in the communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: the Blessed Trinity is not only the model, but generates and moulds the Church as a mystery of communion".

The Holy Father continued: "We must begin from this truth, always and anew, in order to achieve a more intense understanding and experience of being Church: 'People of God. 'Body of Christ', 'Communion'. Otherwise we run the risk of reducing things to a horizontal dimension which perverts the identity of the Church and the announcement of the faith. The Church is not a social or philanthropic organisation, like many others that exist: she is the Community of God, she is a community which believes and loves, which adores the Lord Jesus and opens her 'veils' at the breath of the Holy Spirit; thus she is a community capable of evangelisation".

"Many men and women of our time need to encounter the Lord, or to rediscover the beauty of the God Who is close, the God Who in Jesus Christ reveals His face as Father and calls us to recognise the meaning and value of life. The current moment of history is marked by lights and shadows. We are witnessing complex forms of behaviour: closure, narcissism, desire to possess and consume, sentiments and affections divorced from responsibility. There are many reasons for this disorientation which finds expression in profound existential unease, but underlying everything is the negation of the transcendent dimension of man and of the basic relationship with God. For this reason its is vital for Christian communities to promote valid and compelling itineraries of faith".

AC/ VIS 20110704 (460)


VATICAN CITY, 2 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See met in the Vatican from 30 June to 1 July, under the presidency of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

A communique published today explains that the Holy See consolidated financial statements for 2010, presented to the cardinals during the meeting by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, closed with a surplus of 9,848,124 euro, the difference between an income of 245,195,561 euro and outgoings of 235,347,437 euro.

"The 2010 statement", reads the communique, "notwithstanding elements of uncertainty and instability due to the world economic-financial situation, would appear to reinforce the positive tendency that emerged in the financial year 2009 which, moreover, had already absorbed the negative effects deriving from the great financial crisis of 2008".

The outgoings are due above all to the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See, which in 2010 employed 2,806 people, as compared with the 2,762 employees in 2009.

The meeting also examined the consolidated financial statements of the Governorate of Vatican City State for 2010, which show a surplus of 21,043,000 euro, the difference between an income of 255,890,112 euro and outgoings of 234,847,011 euro. "This result has been achieved", the communique explains, "thanks to the excellent performance of the Vatican Museums (in particular the increased number of visitors, a countertendency with respect to the crisis in the world tourism sector) and the recovery of the financial markets". A total of 1,876 people work under the jurisdiction of the Governorate.

As usual the financial statements have been submitted for verification and certification.

The communique highlights how "the Governorate, the administration of which is independent from the Holy See and from other institutions, supervises the economic requirements and territorial administration of the State, supplying the necessary support structures to the Apostolic See and its activities. In particular, the Governorate is responsible for the maintenance and conservation of what can rightly be considered as one of humanity's most important historical and artistic treasures".

Finally the consolidated financial statements of Peter's Pence were also presented. This fund consists of offers made to the Holy Father by the particular Churches, especially for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and contributions by institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, foundations and various members of the faithful. In 2010 a total of 67,704,416 U.S. dollars was raised, a decrease with respect to last year. "The largest contributions came from Catholics in the United States, Italy andFrance. Particularly significant, considering the number of Catholics, were the contributions from Koreaand Japan".

Bishops, depending on their resources and in keeping with canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law, donated 27,362,258 U.S. dollars, which also represents a decrease with respect to last year.

The communique concludes by noting that the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) donated some 55 million euros for the activities of the Holy Father.

OP/ VIS 20110704 (520)


VATICAN CITY, 2 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi, Italy, presented by Bishop Luciano Bux, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Rainer Maria Woelki, auxiliary of Cologne, Germany, as metropolitan archbishop of Berlin (area 31,200, population 5,811,175, Catholics 393,079, priests 402, permanent deacons 30, religious 738), Germany.

- Appointed Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president emeritus of the Pontifical council for Justice and Peace, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the abbey of Santissima Trinita di Cava, Italy, due to take place on 4 September.

- Appointed Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to the twenty-fifth Italian National Eucharistic Congress, due to take place in the city ofAncona from 3 to 11 September.

- Appointed Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the Jubilee year marking the 600th anniversary of the "Eucharistic miracle of Ludbreg", due to take place at the shrine of Ludbreg in the diocese of Varazdin, Croatia, on 4 September.

RE:NER:NA/ VIS 20110704 (210)


VATICAN CITY, 3 JUL 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

"In today's Gospel the Lord Jesus repeats these words, which we know so well but which never fail to move us: 'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest'. ... When Jesus travelled the roads of Galilee announcing the Kingdom of God and healing many sick people, He felt compassion for the crowds because they were tired and exhausted, like sheep without a shepherd", the Pope said.

"Jesus' gaze seems to rest upon us today, upon our world", he explained. "Today too it rests upon so many people who are oppressed by difficult living conditions, people without valid signposts to help them find a meaning and a goal in life. Exhausted multitudes in the poorest countries are tried by want; and even in richer nations there are many men and women who are dissatisfied, even sick with depression. We think of the many displaced people and refugees, of those who migrate at risk of their lives. Christ's gaze rests upon all these people; or rather it rests on each single child of the Father Who is in heaven, and says: 'Come to me, all of you'.

"Jesus promises that He will give 'rest' to everyone", the Pope added, "but He imposes a condition: 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart'. What is this 'yoke', which is light rather than burdensome, which lifts up rather than weighing down? The 'yoke' of Christ is the law of love, it is His commandment which He left to His disciples".

The Holy Father continued: "The true remedy for humanity's wounds - both material wounds such as hunger and injustice, and mental and moral wounds caused by a false wellbeing - is a life rule based on brotherly love, which has its source in the love of God. For this reason we must abandon the paths of arrogance, of violence used to attain positions of ever greater power, to ensure success at all costs.

"We must also abandon that aggressive approach towards the environment which dominated past centuries, and adopt a reasonable 'mildness'. Above all, in human, interpersonal and social relationships, what can ensure a future worthy of man is the rule of respect and non-violence; that is, the power of truth against all abuse".

After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father recalled today's beatification of Janos Scheffler, bishop of the Romanian diocese of Satu Mare, who died a martyr's death in 1952. "May his witness always support the faith of those who remember him with affection and of the new generations", he said.

Finally, he announced that within the next few days he will travel to Castelgandolfo, where he will spend the summer.

ANG/ VIS 20110704 (500)


VATICAN CITY, 4 JUL 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father inaugurated an exhibition entitled: "The splendour of truth, the beauty of charity: Homage of sixty artists to Benedict XVI for the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood".

The idea to hold the exhibition arose from the Pope's meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel on 21 November 2009. The artists participating in this initiative, most of them Italian, represent different categories: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, literature, poetry, music, cinema and jewellery design.

In his address the Holy Father noted that "the Church and artists are meeting and speaking together again, underlining the need for a discussion which wishes to become, and must become, increasingly intense and intricate. The aim of this is to offer the culture (or rather the cultures) of our time an eloquent example of fruitful and effective dialogue aimed at making this world of ours more human and more beautiful".

"I would like to renew a friendly and impassioned appeal to all artists", he said. "Never separate artistic creativity from truth and charity, never seek beauty distant from truth and charity, but with your genius and creative drive always seek courageously after truth and bear witness to charity. Make the truth shine forth in your works, ensuring that their beauty arouses in the eyes and hearts of the people who admire them the desire and the need to make life, each individual life, more beautiful and true, enriching it with that treasure which never runs out, which makes life a masterpiece and each man an extraordinary artist: charity, love. May the Holy Spirit, architect of all that is beautiful in the world, illuminate you and guide you towards the definitive and ultimate Beauty".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by thanking the artists for "bringing into the world a ray of that Beauty which is God".

.../ VIS 20110704 (330)


VATICAN CITY, 4 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following English-language communique concerning the episcopal ordination of Fr. Paul Lei Shiyin, which took place on Wednesday 29 June and was conferred without the apostolic mandate.

"Fr. Lei Shiyin, ordained without the papal mandate and hence illegitimately, has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See does not recognise him as the bishop of the diocese of Leshan. The effects of the sanction which he has incurred through violation of the norm of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law remain in place.

"Fr. Lei Shiyin had been informed, for some time, that he was unacceptable to the Holy See as an episcopal candidate for proven and very grave reasons.

"The consecrating bishops have exposed themselves to the grave canonical sanctions laid down by the law of the Church (in particular, canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law; cf. Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts of 6 June 2011).

"An episcopal ordination without papal mandate is directly opposed to the spiritual role of the Supreme Pontiff and damages the unity of the Church. The Leshan ordination was a unilateral act which sows division and unfortunately produces rifts and tensions in the Catholic community in China. The survival and development of the Church can only take place in union with him to whom the Church herself is entrusted in the first place, and not without his consent as, however, occurred in Leshan. If it is desired that the Church in China be Catholic, the Church's doctrine and discipline must be respected.

"The Leshan episcopal ordination has deeply saddened the Holy Father, who wishes to send to the beloved faithful in China a word of encouragement and hope, inviting them to prayer and unity".

OP/ VIS 20110704 (320)


VATICAN CITY, 4 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, perfect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

- Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

On Saturday 2 July, he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary, accompanied by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti O.F.M. Conv., regent of the penitentiary.

On the afternoon of Friday 1 July he received in audience Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop ofMunich and Freising, Germany.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The bishop-designate was seized by police right before his ordination, which had papal approval. The two priests disappear after they met Religious Affairs officials.

Handan (AsiaNews) – Two priests disappeared on Saturday in Handan (Hebei) after meeting officials from the Religious Affairs Office. Sources close to AsiaNews said that the two, who hold important offices in the diocese, wanted to talk about their bishop-designate’s disappearance before his Episcopal ordination.

The two priests are Fr Huai Jianting, chancellor, and Fr Liu Xiuhua, a member of the presbyteral council. After two days, nothing is known about them or about Fr Sun Jigen, coadjutor bishop-designate, sources in Handan told AsiaNews.

Mgr Yang Xiangtai, the 89-year-old ordinary bishop who had suffered a heart attack when he heard about his successor’s disappearance, is now doing better.

Fr Sun’s ordination was set for 29 June, feast day of Saints Peter and Paul; however, he was taken into custody by police on 26 June. His ordination was thus cancelled (see Jian Mei, “Hebei: ordination of Handan bishop cancelled, it had Holy See approval,” in AsiaNews. 27 June 2011).

On the day of his ordination, police surrounded the church were the ceremony was to take place as well as all streets leading to it (pictured).

On Saturday, Fr Huai was asked by local Religious Affairs officials to discuss matters relating to Fr Sun, sources told AsiaNews. The priest went to meet them. Eventually, he was seized and the diocese lost all contact with him.

Towards 6 pm on the same day, Religious Affairs officials also called Fr Liu and asked him to come and see them. Their meeting ended at 10 pm, and when he left the building, he was seized by a group of men who forced him into a van and drove away. The diocese’s car was left waiting for him outside.

Only later did Handan Catholics learn that Chongtai District police had seized him.

Catholics in the local and other dioceses have called on the faithful to pray for the safe return of the three men who disappeared.

Meanwhile, the Voice of America’s Chinese Service reported on 30 June that Liu Bainian, honorary president of China’s Patriotic Association and bishops’ college, said they did not receive any report concerning Fr Sun of Handan.

Since Fr Sun was elected candidate as coadjutor bishop of Handan, the bishops’ college was studying his case but has not officially approved him.

In addition, Fr Sun has not been detained, Liu said.


Fides Service REPORT - A Mexican diocesan priest, Father Marco Antonio Duran Romero was killed in a firefight between soldiers and an armed group in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, on the border with the United States. The Diocese of Matamoros confirmed the news in a statement sent to Fides. In the early afternoon on Friday, July 2, Father Marco Antonio was driving in his car near his parish of St. Roberto Bellarmino, when he found himself in the middle of a shoot-out. He was reached by a bullet, was taken to a clinic, where he died shortly after.
Father Roberto Sifuentes Aranda, Administrator of the diocese, signed a statement stating: "In the context of violence and insecurity in which our states and municipalities live, there have been many innocent victims and families who have endured the pain and destruction , fear and death. Father Marco is not just another victim of this hatred between brothers. He was a man chosen to serve the people of God in this land stained with blood. The blood of Father Mark, an innocent victim, represents a voice that cries to heaven asking for compassion and peace for our people, it means an invitation to the faithful and citizens to continue to pray and commit to working for justice and peace, it means the strong living voice of God Himself, who asks everyone to look up to the sky and straighten our roads". The funeral will be held today, July 4, in the Cathedral of Matamoros.


ALL AFRICA REPORT: Owerri — Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Umuapu, Ohaji/Egbema local council area of Imo State, has joined the list of parishes attacked by dare devil armed robbers in the state.

The invading armed robbers physically assaulted the Curate, Rev. Fr. Frank Ogbonna, carted away cash and personal effects of the resident priests before beating a retreat into the safety of their private homes with their loot.

The hoodlums then descended on the parish rectory, cut the burglary proof mounted at the sit out and headed to the room of the Curate, Fr. Ogbonna.

The rampaging criminals slapped Fr. Ogbonna several times for telling them that the money raised the previous day for church renovation was not in the parish house.

Other things stolen by the robbers included teachers salary, mass intention envelopes and 10 percent of the offertory collection meant for the Archdiocese.Fr. Ogbonna confirmed that the robbers tied his hands and feet, removed his laptop, mobile phones, clothes and shoes, adding that they only dropped the sim cards and two pairs of trousers because of his plea.

Vanguard recalls that early callers, after the ugly incident, were the traditional ruler, Eze Boniface Ihueze, the member representing Ohaji/Egbema in Imo State House of Assembly, Chief Luke Chukwu, and a prominent son of the area, Nze Hilary Ihueze.

Efforts made to reach the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, failed as Vanguard could not reach his mobile line for comments on the robbery incident before going to press.


July 2, 2011. REPORT: This nun holds the world record for the longest time living in cloistered life. Her name is Sister Teresita, she's 103 years old and has lived 84 of them in the convent of Buenafuente de Sistal, in Guadalajara, Spain. At 19 she entered the convent of the Cistercian order in 1927, the same day that Benedict XVI was born.

Sister Teresita
“I arrived a bit ignorant because I didn't know much about nuns. I was a normal village girl, I use to go to Mass each week, and pray the rosary in May, but I knew nothing about nuns. I came because the Lord called me. I heard His call and I came to respond to His calling, coming here without knowing where it came from or where it was taking me.”

For this time period in Spain, she was a little late into entering the monastery because she says she didn’t like the nuns. As the eldest of seven siblings, it was her father that one day suggested she go to the convent.

Sister Teresita

“My father said 'The nuns are very good'. I didn't know what this had in store for me. I was thinking that the nuns didn't do any work. And one day my mother scolded me and my father said, 'why don't you stop being a nuisance and join the nuns'? And I said with all my heart: 'Lord, help me to please my father, give me a religious vocation.'”

Sister Teresita was named Valeria. She dedicates her life to prayer for others and her work within the convent. She leads a life without envy and she says that this way of life has made her very happy, calling her work a gift from God.

Sister Teresita
“Happy? How could I not be happy? If I were not happy, I wouldn't be here. Could someone be here for 84 years without being happy? It's not possible! It never occurred to me to come here without a calling.”

This contemplative veteran of the monastery says her most important treasure of over 100 years of life is prayer, which she says brings strength to everyone.

Sister Teresita
“Prayer is the most important thing because without prayer you can't go on. The first thing I say is 'I want to see with your eyes, speak with your mouth, hear with your ears, to love with your heart. It's not me who lives but it's you who lives in me. Despite this prayer, I would get distracted and I would go back to it again'. I always have to say: 'Lord thank you, forgive me, thank you and forgive me'. That's my prayer.”

She has become an expert in cooking Spanish omelets, making them every day while reading the newspaper. She says she still has many things left to do. One of which is a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during the meeting of young nuns in El Escorial during the World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.


Screenshot from the report on AdelaideNow


CATH NEWS REPORT: The Church in Adelaide is setting up a site for online donations to Catholic charities, as more people tap into cyberspace and churches move to reach them, Adelaide Catholic Archdiocese Catholic Charities chairwoman Cathy Whewell said in a report on AdelaideNow from theAdvertiser."We live in an electronic world and the church's move to online donations reflects that," she said. "People have always supported the disadvantaged and those in need and online donation will provide people with another option to do just that."Ms Whewell said welfare agencies provided critical care for people, including domestic violence victims, the homeless, and mentally or physically impaired children.

She said donations from service collections supported diocesan priests and individual parishes to maintain and run parishes and churches.

Uniting Church general resources manager Barry Atwell said: "It's simpler for people who are time-poor, reduces cash counting and related security issues and means that planning church finances for the future is made simpler.

Paradise Community Church senior minister Ashley Evans said the church still used the passing of the donation bowl, but found more people wanted to donate electronically


St. Elizabeth of Portugal


Feast: July 4


Feast Day:July 4
Born:1271, AljaferĂ­a Palace, Zaragoza, Kingdom of Aragon
Died:4 July 1336, Estremoz Castle in Estremoz, Alentejo, Kingdom of Portugal
Canonized:24 June 1625 by Pope Urban VIII
Major Shrine:Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, Coimbra, Portugal[
Patron of:Third Order of St Francis

Queen (sometimes known as the PEACEMAKER); born in 1271; died in 1336. She was named after her great-aunt, the great Elizabeth of Hungary, but is known in Portuguese history by the Spanish form of that name, Isabel. The daughter of Pedro III, King of Aragon, and Constantia, grandchild of Emperor Frederick II, she was educated very piously, and led a life of strict regularity and self-denial from her childhood: she said the full Divine Office daily, fasted and did other penances, and gave up amusement. Elizabeth was married very early to Diniz (Denis), King of Portugal, a poet, and known as Re Lavrador, or the working king , from his hard work in is country s service. His morals, however, were extremely bad, and the court to which his young wife was brought consequently most corrupt. Nevertheless, Elizabeth quietly pursued the regular religious practices of her maidenhood, whilst doing her best to win her husband s affections by gentleness and extraordinary forbearance. She was devoted to the poor and sick, and gave every moment she could spare to helping them, even pressing her court ladies into their service. Naturally, such a life was a reproach to many around her, and caused ill will in some quarters. A popular story is told of how her husband s jealousy was roused by an evil-speaking page; of how he condemned the queen s supposed guilty accomplice to a cruel death; and was finally convinced of her innocence by the strange accidental substitution of her accuser for the intended victim.

Diniz does not appear to have reformed in morals till late in life, when we are told that the saint won him to repentance by her prayers and unfailing sweetness. They had two children, a daughter Constantia and a son Affonso. The latter so greatly resented the favours shown to the king s illegitimate sons that he rebelled, and in 1323 war was declared between him and his father. St. Elizabeth, however, rode in person between the opposing armies, and so reconciled her husband and son. Diniz died in 1325, his son succeeding him as Affonso IV. St. Elizabeth then retired to a convent of Poor Clares which she had founded at Coimbra, where she took the Franciscan Tertiary habit, wishing to devote the rest of her life to the poor and sick in obscurity. But she was called forth to act once more as peacemaker. In 1336 Affonso IV marched his troops against the King of Castile, to whom he had married his daughter Maria, and who had neglected and ill-treated her. In spite of age and weakness, the holy queen dowager insisted on hurrying to Estremoz, where the two kings’ armies were drawn up. She again stopped the fighting and caused terms of peace to be arranged. But the exertion brought on her final illness; and as soon as her mission was fulfilled she died of a fever, full of heavenly joy, and exhorting her son to the love of holiness and peace. St. Elizabeth was buried at Coimbra, and miracles followed her death. She was canonized by Urban VIII in 1625



Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati


Feast: July 4


Feast Day:July 4

April 6, 1901, Turin, Italy

Died:July 4, 1925, Turin, Italy
Canonized:May 20, 1990 by Pope John Paul II

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world, and especially for the young people of our time. Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, his time on earth was short-only 24 years-but he filled it passionately with holy living. Pier Giorgio was a model of virtue, a "man of the beatitudes," as Pope John Paul II called him at the saint's beatification ceremony in Rome on May 20, 1990. He was described by friends as "an explosion of joy." As Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana, says of her brother in her biography of him, "He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful."

To our modern world which is often burdened by cynicism and angst, Pier Giorgio's life offers a brilliant contrast, a life rich in meaning, purpose, and peace derived from faith in God. From the earliest age, and despite two unreligious parents who misunderstood and disapproved of his piety and intense interest in Catholicism, Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. These parental misunderstandings, which were very painful to him, persisted until the day of his sudden death of polio. However, he bore this treatment patiently, silently, and with great love.

Pier Giorgio prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. "He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ," Luciana Frassati writes. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. "Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration." For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him. With this interest in the balance of contemplation and action, it is no wonder why Pier Giorgio was drawn in 1922 at the age of 21 to the Fraternities of St. Dominic. In becoming a tertiary, Pier Giorgio chose the name "Girolamo" (Jerome) after his personal hero, Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery Dominican preacher and reformer during the Renaissance in Florence. Pier Giorgio once wrote to a friend, "I am a fervent admirer of this friar (Savonarola), who died as a saint at the stake."

Pier Giorgio was handsome, vibrant, and natural. These attractive characteristics drew people to him. He had many good friends and he shared his faith with them with ease and openness. He engaged himself in many different apostolates. Pier Giorgio also loved sports. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hiking, riding horses, skiing, and mountain climbing. He was never one to pass on playing a practical joke, either. He relished laughter and good humor.

As Luciana points out, "Catholic social teaching could never remain simply a theory with [Pier Giorgio]." He set his faith concretely into action through spirited political activism during the Fascist period in World War I Italy. He lived his faith, too, through discipline with his school work, which was a tremendous cross for him as he was a poor student. Most notably, however, Pier Giorgio (like the Dominican St. Martin de Porres) lived his faith through his constant, humble, mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin. Although Pier Giorgio grew up in a privileged environment, he never lorded over anyone the wealth and prestige of his family. Instead, he lived simply and gave away food, money, or anything that anyone asked of him. It is suspected that he contracted from the very people to whom he was ministering in the slums the polio that would kill him.

Even as Pier Giorgio lay dying, his final week of rapid physical deterioration was an exercise in heroic virtue. His attention was turned outward toward the needs of others and he never drew attention to his anguish, especially since his own grandmother was dying at the same time he was. Pier Giorgio's heart was surrendered completely to God's will for him. His last concern was for the poor. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand, he scribbled a message to a friend, reminding the friend not to forget the injections for Converso, a poor man Pier Giorgio had been assisting.

When news of Pier Giorgio's death on July 4, 1925 reached the neighborhood and city, the Frassati parents, who had no idea about the generous self-donation of their young son, were astonished by the sight of thousands of people crowded outside their mansion on the day of their son's funeral Mass and burial. The poor, the lonely, and those who had been touched by Pier Giorgio's love and faithful example had come to pay homage to this luminous model of Christian living.

Pier Giorgio's mortal remains were found incorrupt in 1981 and were transferred from the family tomb in the cemetery of Pollone to the Cathedral of Turin.

Post a Comment