“When you possess peace every day you will be truly rich.”
Just before spending his last Easter on earth, Pier Giorgio wrote a long letter to his best friend, Marco, and ended it with this beautiful wish: “I send you my best wishes, rather just one, but I believe it to be the only wish that a true friend can make to a dear friend and it is this: the Peace of the Lord be with you always because when you possess peace every day you will be truly rich.”
His way of defining “truly rich” might strike some as odd. After all, the level of wealth that surrounded him would have been significant even by today’s standards. Pier Giorgio grew up with maids, cooks, gardeners, a chauffeur, and a variety of other household staff whose purpose was to serve the needs of the family. He came in contact with very influential members of various segments of society, from politics to the arts. He traveled and attended balls and casually visited high-ranking Church officials. He was no stranger to the luxuries his family’s social standing made possible.
But none of this worldly wealth brought peace into their family life. The tense, strained relationship of his parents is a common theme of most biographies about Pier Giorgio. One story tells of how he finally had to slam his fist on the table during a meal and say, “Enough!” to end the bickering. Money alone, Pier Giorgio personally experienced, did not bring happiness.
In his Easter letter to Marco, Pier Giorgio made clear what he considered to be the source of true riches: peace — the kind that comes from a relationship with the Prince of Peace. We know of at least fifty times that he wrote about peace. It was a frequent theme in his letters to his friends and a frequent lament that he made when he saw how much it was lacking in various situations. Peace, he said, was “the best of all earthly gifts.” Based on his writings, I believe he would willingly have traded all of the material wealth that his family enjoyed for them to experience true spiritual wealth.
Just a few months after writing about peace to Marco, Pier Giorgio was unexpectedly summoned by the Lord. His death left a tremendous void in his home, but it did bring healing to his parents’ marriage in a way that had not seemed possible during his lifetime. Through their shared experience of profound loss, his parents found some degree of that once-elusive peace. At great personal cost, the prayers of their son were answered; they had become “truly rich.”
O Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You.— Saint John of the Cross
Let Your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule
me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace.
Think of how you can be an example of peace at home, at school, or at work. Greet others today by saying, “Peace be with you!”
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in the book, Finding Frassati: And Following His Path to Holiness. It is available from your favorite bookseller or online from Sophia Institute Press.
We also recommend the following articles and interviews from Christine M. Wohar and Catholic Exchange: