Inspirational young Italian saint being flown into Sydney to inspire WYD in Oz

01 Apr 2008

By The Record

ROME (CNS) – Logistical details are being finalized in an attempt to
fly the body of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati to Sydney, Australia, for
veneration by young people at World Youth Day in July.


Italian Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a struggling student who excelled in mountain climbing. He had complete faith in God and persevered through college, dedicating himself to helping the poor and supporting church social teaching. He died aged 24 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1990. His body will be brought to Sydney for WYD. Photo: CNS


Among Italian young people and a growing number of their peers around
the world, Blessed Pier Giorgio, who died in 1925 at the age of 24, is
seen as a special patron because he combined his enjoyment of life and
sports with strong faith, serious charity and a commitment to social
    In a service combining prayer and church legal procedures, Blessed
Pier Giorgio’s tomb in the cathedral of Turin, Italy, was opened on
March 3, said Father Livio Demarie, spokesman for the Archdiocese of
    Both the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio and the Shroud of Turin are venerated in the Turin cathedral.
    Father Demarie said the only thing the archdiocese had to say was
that the exhumation of the body was necessary so the archdiocese could
take steps to better preserve it.
    "Everything was done in agreement with the family," he said.
    The family and the Italian bishops’ office for youth are involved in the plans to transport the remains to Sydney.
    Father Nicolo Anselmi, director of the youth office, told Catholic
News Service on March 7 that "it is true" that planning the transport
is at an advanced stage.
    While admiring a saint or beatified person and praying for that
person’s intercession can be done anywhere and anytime, he said, having
a relic or the mortal remains "helps us pray. It leads people to get to
know the blessed or saint better. You know he is close to you."
    Wanda Gawronska, Blessed Pier Giorgio’s niece, told CNS she was
certain that her uncle’s remains would be part of World Youth Day.
    "It is beautiful. It is something splendid," she said.
    The Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes must give final
approval to the plan, she said, but she expects the congregation to do
    Gawronska said the planning also includes ensuring the safety and
dignified handling of the coffin during its transport, as well as
complying with international and Australian health regulations
concerning the transportation of human remains.
    She said young people identify with her uncle "because they have
the same problems, desires and interests he had. They see him more as a
companion and a friend than as an authority."
    Christine Wohar, executive director of FrassatiUSA, was visiting
Gawronska when news broke about the plans to transfer the body.
    She told CNS she realized people outside Europe might find the idea
a bit strange at first, only because "we do not really have an
opportunity in the United States to venerate the remains of saints.
Here in Rome, there is one in almost every church."
    "To me, this is an incredible opportunity," she said.
    "People who know Pier Giorgio love him. It is not a casual
relationship; they really love him," Wohar said. "It will be a comfort
and special gift to have him at World Youth Day."