Yesterday marked the 111th birthday of Pier Giorgio's sister Luciana. What is remarkable is that she was alive for 105 of those years, having passed away only six years ago in 2007.
It was really a leap of faith into the great unknown when I headed off to Italy in 2006 to explore doing something (only God knew what) for Pier Giorgio Frassati. I arrived at the family home in Pollone on August 16th and one of my earliest memories is being with family and friends of Luciana as we celebrated her 104th birthday two days later! I don't know if I will ever celebrate anyone else's 104th birthday, let alone that of a sister of a saint.
Needless to say, it was a rare blessing to be able to spend a considerable amount of time in the house with Luciana there and do the same the following summer. This picture is a particularly special memory. I had been to the top of Mount Mucrone for the first time that day and was wearing a shirt with the image of Pier Giorgio on it. When I got back to the house, Luciana was sitting outside and this picture was snapped. A very surreal moment for me. The day of her funeral was also something I will never forget and it has always made me feel even closer to Pier Giorgio himself.
Luciana did many great things over the course of her long life. Some involved her work on behalf of her brother but many were on behalf of mankind. Many of the excellent articles about her are not translated into English, unfortunately, like this wonderful tribute from La Stampa -- the newspaper founded by her father. We have the wikipedia version which falls miserably short but is at least worth a look. I think the best way to get to know her is through her books about her brother, particularly the book about his death in which she gives a very honest account of herself in comparison to him.
Those of us with a devotion to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati owe a large debt of gratitude to Luciana for preserving his memory and making so much of his life available to us. One small way to repay her would be a prayer for her peaceful repose: L'eterno riposo dona Lei, o Signore, e splenda a Lei la luce perpetua. Riposa in pace. Amen.