On June the 29th, Pier Giorgio began his week of Passion. Weakened by poliomyelitis which he had likely caught visiting poor people in the slums of Turin, he had no more than six days to live.
His sickness was not understood. His parents wholly taken up by the agony, death and burial of his grandmother, had not even suspected the paralysis. Far from it, two days before the end, his mother kept on scolding him for not helping her in such days.
Not even in those desperate final days could he ever forget his closest friends, the poor. It was Friday, the day he visited them. While lying on his death bed he wanted the usual material assistance to be brought to them.
He asked his sister to take a small packet from his jacket and with a semi-paralysed hand he wrote the following note to Grimaldi: "here are the injections for Converso. The pawn ticket is Sappa's. I had forgotten it; renew it on my behalf".
When the priest who was attending him asked 'What if your grandmother were to call you to heaven?, he replied "How happy I would be". But he immediately added, "what about father and mother?" and the priest replied, "Giorgio, you will not abandon them; you will live in spirit with them from heaven. You will give them your faith and your self-denial, you will continue to be one family".
These few words were enough to dispel Pier Giorgio's final human concerns and he smiled, nodded his head and said "Yes".
His sacrifice was fulfilled at seven o'clock in the evening of the 4th July 1925. His funeral was a triumph and an apotheosis; and only then, at the sight of hundreds of his poor following the coffin, who realised that they would no longer welcome that merciful and pious young man bearing a loaf of bread to sate their hunger and words of hope to comfort their misery, was it known to everyone, even to his own family, who Pier Giorgio truly was.
HE LEFT THIS WORLD RATHER YOUNG, BUT HE MADE A MARK UPON OUR ENTIRE CENTURY, AND NOT ONLY ON OUR CENTURY.
John Paul II - Rome, 20 May 1990