Wondering about all of the "Verso l'Alto" merch you run into? Wanting to know more about the man behind the phrase?
Take a look at the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati to learn what it's all about:
Pier Giorgio Frassati was born and raised in Turin, Italy, the son of a newspaper director and an artist. He lived a deeply spiritual life, with the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist as two of his primary devotions. He is well-known for his great care for the poor, even from childhood, and his social advocacy for the marginalized.
Pier Giorgio was dedicated to living his life for Christ. He wrote in a letter to young Catholics at Pollone, Italy, that, "We must sacrifice everything for everything: our ambitions, indeed our entire selves, for the cause of the Faith... In order for our life to be Christian, it must be a continual renunciation, a continual sacrifice... And so, young people, learn how to sacrifice from our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This continual sacrifice was what Pier Giorgio strove to embody in his life, and he did so with joy and courage. As a young man, Pier Giorgio joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society, spending his time serving the poor, sick, orphans, and disabled veterans. He became a mining engineer at a university in Turin in order to serve and witness to other miners. In addition to his studies, he became a member of Catholic Action to engage in social activism for the rights of workers.
Pier Giorgio also loved art, music, and outings in the mountains. He was an avid mountain climber, and would organize trips with his friends. He saw many parallels between a life of faith - pursing Christ against adversity in the world - and mountain climbing; he would pray and discuss this faith with his friends on their excursions.
After the climb that would unknowingly become his last, Pier Giorgio wrote the words "Verso L'Alto" on a photograph, meaning "toward the heights." Although he did not adopt this as a motto while living, the phrase has become known as a summary of his outlook on life as a Catholic adventure.
Pier Giorgio fell sick with Polio at the age of 24, but, as always, continued to put others before himself. He remained preoccupied with service to those in need all the way to his deathbed, leaving his family with instructions for serving the sick he had been working with. He died on July 4, 1925.
Pope John Paul II beatified Pier Giorgio Frassati in 1990, referring to him a "man of the beatitudes" in honor of his exemplary joy while he sacrificed for and served Christ in others. The pope also declared him a patron for World Youth Days, as an inspiration to the young people in the Church. His feast day is celebrated on July 4.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a example of selfless sacrifice and bold action on behalf of Christ. We, too, should strive to make even our everyday actions and favorite pastimes an example of evangelization, even if it is as simple as sharing the Faith with others while climbing a mountain. How can you create the space for a conversation about Christ today?
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Pray for us!