A few years ago, I was driving with some friends from Austria to Milan, Italy, and we were headed to a soccer game. Part of the duration of our drive was spent talking about the saints. As we entered the city, my friend said something I will never forget. He said, “Claire, we have to make the saints our best friends.” That sentence changed the trajectory of my life. I had always loved the saints, I loved learning about them, and I attempted to imitate them — yet I never thought to make them friends, let alone my best friends. From that moment on, I asked my favorite saints to become my dearest, best friends. And my life has been completely different since.
Just a few weeks ago, I returned from leading a pilgrimage to Italy that followed in the footsteps of my best heavenly friend, Pier Giorgio Frassati, an Italian “Blessed” in heaven whose life story is a powerful one precisely because he radiates Christ so intensely. The pilgrimage ended at Blessed Pier Giorgio’s summer home in Pollone and visiting his tomb in the city of Turin. While we were there, our group was able to meet his niece, Wanda Gawronska. It was a deeply moving experience, an encounter that I prayed about for years (I have emails to her from 2015 asking to meet her)!
She asked me what I loved about him, and I was able to share the impact he had on my life. I would love to share the same with you today, on the Solemnity of All Saints.
1. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.
Blessed Pier Giorgio’s source of strength was the Eucharist. He was able to accomplish all the works of charity that he did and endure all of his sufferings because he was completely in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. I will never forget the first time I “met” Blessed Pier. I was about 12 years old. My mother handed me a small prayer card of him. She told me to pray to Jesus through his intercession. I began to research him in my spare time. I would look up his story online, and I ordered and read all the books I could find about him. I wanted to be like him — adventurous and loving, a person who would give my time and love to the poor and lonely. I wanted to bring people closer to Christ, just as he did.