Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pier Giorgio's "international relief efforts"

Especially now, the headlines are filled with the sad news of death and devastation following various natural disasters. In Myanmar, the struggle to bring aid to the afflicted has been disturbing. Why wouldn't a government want its own citizens to receive lifesaving supplies? Often, in situations like these, our options are only to contribute whatever possible to the relief effort and pray for the comfort and consolation of those who are suffering.

It is widely known that, during his lifetime, Pier Giorgio helped many of the poor in his native Turin. It is less commonly known that his works of charity reached beyond the Italian border. With his father's appointment to the position of Ambassador to Germany, the family began to spend time at the embassy in Berlin. In fact, Pier Giorgio had considered continuing his college studies in Germany during this period. These plans changed with the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and his father's swift resignation afterward. However, during his time in Berlin, Pier Giorgio set about at once to serve the poor. He made the acquaintance of a German priest who was very involved in these efforts and soon became involved himself. He also helped the poor in Vienna at the request of a friend from the Pax Romana Conference. As always, he preferred to be anonymous. These brief excerpts from his letters reveal a little of his "international relief activity."

"I’m sending you 90 thousand crowns that I had left over from my trip and I ask you to use the money as you wish. In this my name should remain secret." ~ letter to Maria Fischer (in Vienna), January 1923

" There are many children and women workers in Vienna today without a roof over their heads, left prey to hunger and misery. My friend is begging me to assist them with a collection. In the spirit of Pax Romana I thought that you would be able to do the same in Holland." ~ letter to Maria Schwan, January 1923

Wherever he went, whenever he saw people in need, he did what he could to help. He was a true apostle of charity, both at home and abroad.

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