Declared “Blessed” by the Church in 1990, Frassati has since been a part of every WYD as either an official or unofficial patron. In 2008, his relics were prepared for the long journey to Sydney, Australia. Day after day, thousands upon thousands were visibly moved after entering St. Mary’s Cathedral to view an impressive exhibit about his life and pass by the coffin holding his incorrupt body.
For pilgrims to Krakow, the presence of Bl. Frassati’s relics at the Basilica of the Holy Trinity on Stolarska Street will be an especially meaningful opportunity. It was here in 1977 that the future blessed Frassati was first called “the Man of the Eight Beatitudes” by Pope St. John Paul II. The Dominican friars of the Krakow Priory held a retreat for young people that focused on the beatitudes and featured an exhibit about Pier Giorgio Frassati in the large common area. They invited the local Cardinal, Karol Wojtyla, to open the exhibit. Having been influenced by the life and witness of Frassati, the Cardinal was overcome with emotion upon seeing the many pictures and exhorted, “Go and look at these photographs! Behold the man of the eight beatitudes who bears in himself the grace of the Gospel, the Good News, the joy of salvation offered to us by Christ..."
Twenty months after that encounter in Krakow, Cardinal Wojtyla would make history by becoming Pope John Paul II -- the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years. Just 12 years later, he himself would beatify Pier Giorgio Frassati. Speaking to the young people of Rome about Bl. Frassati in preparation for WYD 1991, the Holy Father urged, “Get to know him! The life of this ‘normal’ young man shows that we can be holy by living our friendships, studies, sports and service to the poor in a constant relationship with God.”
Pilgrims who venerate the relics of Bl. Frassati in Krakow will be standing on truly holy ground – where a brief encounter between a Polish cardinal and an Italian university student some 39 years ago foreshadowed the beginning of many stupendous displays of Catholic young people marching through the streets of cities all around the world.
Saint Pope John Paul II and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!