Pier Giorgio was born on April 6, 1901 in Turin, Italy, of a prominent family. His father, an agnostic, owned the liberal newspaper, La Stampa, served in the Italian Senate and later became an ambassador to Germany.
Of a different frame of mind and stance of soul than that of his father, young Pier Giorgio was deeply spiritual. The Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary were the two devotions around which revolved his prayer life, a life he never hesitated to share with his friends.
While pursuing a mining engineering degree, he became involved in Catholic youth groups, the Apostleship of Prayer, Catholic Action and was a Dominican Tertiary. He helped establish the paper Momento based on Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum. In 1918, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and spent much of his time helping the poor by sharing with them his allowance and even the clothes off his back.
Pier Giorgio was strongly anti-communist and anti-fascist and never hid his political views. In a Church-organized demonstration in Rome he rescued their banner from the hands of the police and, holding it high, used the pole to ward off blows. Arrested with the demonstrators, he refused special treatment because of his father’s position, and was jailed along with his friends. On another occasion, when a group of fascists broke into his family home, he beat them off single-handedly, chasing them down the street.
The young man loved art and music, and often frequented the theater, the opera and museums. One of his favorite sports was mountain climbing, and he often organized expeditions with his friends, never failing to lead them to Mass or in the Rosary.
Just before receiving his engineering degree, Pier Giorgio contracted poliomyelitis, possibly caught from the sick he tended. After six days of terrible and intense suffering, the holy young man died on July 4, 1925.
His funeral was a triumph. His family was amazed as throngs of the poor and needy of the city lined the streets, many of whom in turn were surprised to realize that their “angel of mercy” was the heir to the influential Frassati family.