Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pier Giorgio and the Military

Pier Giorgio was very concerned about the soldiers who served Italy in World War I and afterward. This is one of the stories about how he reached out to men who were complete strangers out of concern for their spiritual welfare. It is a good reminder, in my opinion, to pray for all those who are in the service of our country. This account was related by Gianni Brunelli, a young soldier in Turin in 1924.

"I met Pier Giorgio in the autumn of 1924. At that time, I was in Turin as quartermaster of the 41st District Company. One Sunday, I don’t know if it was September or October, I quickly completed my duties of office and I went to the Mass in St. Secondo, the last Mass at 1 p.m.

I entered and was in the midst of the crowd. At the end of Mass, I took communion. On the way back from the altar to my seat, I encountered Pier Giorgio. He was standing and was holding a rosary in his hand. He looked at me and his eye flashed with light; it was a second and it was an eternity. I will never forget that look. With my face between my hands, I was trying to recollect my thoughts to Jesus, but before me was the flash of that eye which had in it something of a mystic, of a titan, of strength.

When I left, the church was deserted. But outside in the street, waiting for me in the sun was a very good-looking young man. It was Pier Giorgio Frassati. He came toward me smiling slightly and I remember mainly one thing: the lowering of his eyelashes.

“May I!” he said, and there seemed to be in front of me John, the friend of Jesus. I looked at him and on impulse extended my hand to him. “Thank you,” he said. And I didn’t know if he was thanking me for having taken communion or if he was pleased with my spontaneous gesture. “I will accompany you,” he said again, “tell me where you are staying and where you are from.” Then I lightly placed my hand on his arm and told him that I was a mountaineer from the Alps. And I couldn’t have told him anything more beautiful because he completely lit up with joy. The mountain he loved so much!

When we arrived at the main red door of the barracks, he said to me, almost ordering: “Why don’t you gather a group of young soldiers every Sunday and bring them to St. Secondo?” I didn’t respond, but promised with a handshake. The following Sunday, we numbered more than 20 soldiers from my Company at communion. And in the silent shade of the nave, I saw the festive joy of Pier Giorgio Frassati. One word of his was enough to make a miracle, because in the barracks one hardly thinks of Mass."


JohnG said...

What an excellent story! It really brings Bl Pier Giorgio to life. I have a great interest, particularly stories like this that I share with my weekly catechism class for young adults. I saw you on EWTN last night Chris. Thank you for your devotion to the Man of the Beatitudes and for spreading the word!

Caroline said...

I saw you on Life on the Rock too! I was so excited!!! I feel like little by little the word about Pier Giorgio is being spread around... and talking about him on TV certainly helped!!!

Speaking of which, I don't know if you've seen the movie "bella" or not, but the director Alejandro Monteverde, producer Leo Severino and lead actor Eduardo Verastegui came to my church last night. (they are all Catholic and so is their film company) I got the chance to talk to Mr. Severino and Mr. Monteverde and I gave them both a bio I wrote on Pier Giorgio, as well as a few holy cards. I told them a little bit about Pier Giorgio and what a great movie his story would make, and they seemed genuinely interested! So, I'm going to pray hard and we'll see what happens! But I just thought you might like to know.