Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(3) August 2021

Book Review

Pier Giorgio Frassati . Truth, Love and Sacrifice
by David C. Bellusci, OP, PhD Published WIPF&STOCK

Reviewed by Dr Pravin Thevasathan

Book CoverBlessed Pier Giorgio (1901-1925) was an amazing person. He crammed so much into his short life. He was a devoted Catholic, a Third Order Dominican and a social activist who cared for the sick and the poor. He was also a keen mountaineer and was, like Thomas More, a man born for friendship.

It is easy to see photos of him smiling and assume he had an easy life. In truth, although very well off, he had many crosses to carry throughout his life. His father was an agnostic who owned the liberal newspaper La Stampa and his mother was a talented artist with very little interest in religion. The marriage was not a happy one. What is quite incredible is that Pier Giorgio discovered and lived his Catholic faith to the full from an early age. As a social activist, he was deeply opposed to Mussolini at a time when many Catholics had fallen under his spell. 

As a Third Order Dominican, it is not surprising to learn that he was devoted to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena. He could also recite from the poems of Dante. He was especially inspired by the teachings of Saint Paul. 

He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis and died aged only twenty four. His unbelieving parents, on the point of divorce, were utterly amazed at the sight of the thousands of mainly poor who attended his funeral. They returned in time to the practice of their faith and their marriage was saved.

Given Pier Giorgio's great love for the Dominican Order, it is fitting that this excellently researched work is by a Dominican. What the author has done is to help us discover Pier Giorgio anew through his letters and the many testimonies on his life. So we learn not only who he was from his friendships to his prayer life but also about his great love of the poor and the sick. 

This book reminds us that holiness is possible for all of us. What Pier Giorgio did was to do ordinary things extraordinarily well. He teaches us that holiness is built on truth, love and sacrifice.