Today Fr. PJ Smith and I are setting off for Turin to dedicate the young people and the youth work of our Diocese to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (d. 1925). Most of today will be spent travelling, and we arrive late tonight in Turin.
Tomorrow morning (Thursday) we have been given the extraordinary privilege of offering Mass on the altar of Blessed Pier Giorgio in the Cathedral. At the end of the Mass we will say the prayers of dedication and a litany invoking his intercession. Joining us for the Mass will be Wanda Gawronska, the niece of Pier Giorgio, who is travelling up from Rome to be with us. Don Primo Soldi will also be concelebrating. He is the author of a number of religious books including at least two on Blessed Pier Giorgio.
After the Mass, Don Primo is going to take us to visit the Cootolengo Hopsital, which in Pier Giorgio’s day was an orphanage. Pier Giorgio regularly used to visit the orphans there as part of his work with the SVP.
On Thursday afternoon, after lunch we will visit Blessed Pier Giorgio’s parish church, La Crocetta, where Bernadette Peyron from the Italian Associazione Frassati will give us a guided tour. Opposite the parish church is the former Frassati house, today a bank.
On Friday we will move up to Pollone, a small town in the mountains about 50 miles north of Turin. There the Frassati family had – and still has – a summer villa. It was there that Giorgio spent many happy days in his childhood. It was also there that he died after a short but agonising illness of six days. Wanda is going to open the house for us specially so that we can offer Mass in Giorgio's room, the room where he died. I am going to offer that Mass for the deceased members of the Frassati family, especially for Pier Giorgio’s parents, Alfredo and Adelaide, for Wanda’s parents Luciana (Pier Giorgio’s sister) and Jan, and for the maids and servants who assisted the family and to whom Pier Giorgio was very close.
We will visit the family vault in the neighbouring cemetery where originally Giorgio himself was buried until he was transferred for his beatification to the Cathedral. We will also visit the sanctuary at Oropa and take some flowers to the brown Madonna whom he loved to visit and venerate.
We will be staying overnight in Pollone in the Frassati villa, before leaving early on Saturday morning back to the airport at Milan to fly home. I hope very much before we leave that there will be time for us to say Mass for the feast of the Annunciation.
Please pray that the Lord will shower us all with many blessings from this pilgrimage. Pray especially for many graces for all our young people and those who care for them, their parents, families and friends, and especially their teachers and university educators. Please pray too, that the Holy Spirit will guide Father PJ Smith and his youth chaplaincy teams.