St John's Q&A

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A saint at the Olympics

Rebecca Dussault, a devout Catholic, wife, and mother from Colorado, is an eight-time U.S. National Cross Country Ski Champion and Top Ranked U.S. Women's Nordic Skier. She is an inspiring woman who has a special devotion to and friendship with a saint, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925). Before the Olympics, she named Frassati her “patron on the Journey to the Olympics.” When she competed, she had Frassati's name written on her skis, along with the Sign of the Cross with which she always marks them.

Pier Giorgio, who lived in Turin, Italy, and is known as the "saint of the beatitudes", would have enjoyed having the Olympics in his home town. He was an avid sportsman; a skier himself, PG also enjoyed hiking, rock climbing, soccer, swimming, skating, cycling -- you name it! His witness became a model of Christian living to Rebecca who enjoys many of the same recreations. Other connections found in the friendship of Rebecca and Pier Giorgio include: love for all things Catholic, special devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to His Mother Mary, and a zest for living life to the full in the presence of the Lord.

One might ask, how is it possible that this young lady can fulfill all these roles? Rebecca simply says, “It is all a matter of God's graces helping me…accomplish all of my goals.” Or, as PG once wrote: “The faith given to me in Baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but IF you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.”

In his young adult life, Pier Giorgio formed a society of friends. The main rule of this group was to pray for each other. He once said such prayers “are the best possible sign of friendship." Frassati continues to pray for his friends from Heaven, especially Rebecca and other Olympic athletes. Rebecca's favorite quote from her heavenly friend is: “To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth, that is not living, but existing.”

Pope John Paul II, who called Blessed Frassati “a saint for the youth of the Third Millennium”, noted in a homily addressed to young athletes in 1984: “Pier Giorgio Frassati, who was a modern young man open to the values of sport - he was a skillful mountaineer and able skier - but at the same time he bore a courageous witness of generosity in Christian faith and charity towards others, especially the very poor and the suffering. The Lord called him to Himself … but he is still very much alive among us with his smile and his goodness, inviting his contemporaries to the love of Christ and a virtuous life.”

- Most of the above are excerpts from a recent article written by Fr. William J Kuchinsky, " I HAVE A FRIEND IN THE OLYMPICS!"


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