Mercy's Ever-youthful Face

Last Updated:

Bishop Nicholas Hudson's Christmas reflection 2016

At Christmas we celebrate God’s eternal youth in the child born in Bethlehem.  I was touched, on arriving in Krakow for World Youth Day, to hear Pope Francis say to the young pilgrims, ‘The world wants to learn from you that the Father’s mercy has an ever-youthful face!’  

One youthful face which dominated World Youth Day was that of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati.  I had no idea he would be with us in Krakow!  But his image was emblazoned across every street; and his actual body housed in the church of St Dominic: it had been brought there especially from Turin.  I felt a deep joy spending time in his presence; and I was not the only one: throughout the week the stream of young pilgrims to his body was unceasing. 

I had discovered years previously what a missionary of mercy Piergiorgio was.  As a young man, he chose to study engineering so that he could help the poor miners.  He was the kind of boy who never had his bus-money, because he had given it to the poor!  Photos of him skiing and mountaineering with friends show him to be the life and soul of the party.  What his friends did not know was that he was forever slipping off to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the poor. 

He risked disease; and eventually contracted polio.  His family would not believe he was dying.  The last thing he asked of his sister was to collect a prescription and to deliver a poor man’s medicine.  His parents were amazed when all the poor people of Turin turned out to salute his coffin as it passed: it was the biggest funeral the city had ever seen.  He was only 24.  If the face of God is mercy, then Blessed Piergiorgio shows that face to be indeed ever-youthful, and eternally so.