pier francis | behind the name

Before I begin, here's a friendly PSA about how to pronounce Pier's name.... it's like this, you see:

Just wanted to clarify because our little man has been called Peter, Piers, Pierce, and Pierre more times than we can count.  Technically in Italian it's pronounced kinda like the French Pierre but in one syllable, which we Americanize simply as the word pier (like a pier in a lake, or a peer in your classroom...you get the idea).

So, why exactly did we name him Pier and not something a little more...normal?

Ever since I was little, I’ve been obsessed with baby names.  I had names for all of my dolls, notebooks filled to the brim of each of my future children’s names, and would even research the meaning of names at a very early age.  Names fascinate me, so when it came to decide on a (very permanent) name for our firstborn, we put a lot of prayer and thought into the decision.

In true Catholic tradition, we plan on naming all our children after saints who live out the Gospel in extraordinary ways.  We ask for the intercession of these saints in order that our own children will become holy, virtuous men and women as they grow to carry out the love of Christ in his or her unique way.   Our Pier Francis is named after two very important men that hold special places in our hearts – Blessed Pier Girogio Frassati and Saint Francis of Assisi (we also really love this guy). Of course, "Pier" is Italian for Peter, so actually he has three pretty legit men looking after him ;). It was my prayer throughout my pregnancy that our baby Pier would possess the spirit and virtue of these great men. 

Most of you probably know the story of St. Francis, so I am excited to tell you about Blessed Pier Giorgio.  First off, if I were to have a saint crush, he's definitely it.  This guy was an Italian hunk -- super attractive, incredibly wealthy, and joyfully charismatic.  See studly photo for reference:

And he wasn't afraid to live a full life, either.  He loved to hike, ski, play practical jokes, climb mountains, smoke his pipe, and drink his wine with the best of 'em. 

Above all, he had a heart for the Lord and the Blessed Mother, and a deep devotion to the Eucharist.  This pure love for Christ and His Church stemmed an intense love for the poor.  His parents were ridiculously wealthy, but he gave everything -- even his bus fare -- to those in need.  His humility was so profound that even those closest to him had no idea he did these things. At the age of 24, he contracted polio from the poor that he so devoutly served, and died quickly after.  In fact, at his funeral, thousands of the poor of Turin showed up in vast numbers to say goodbye to their friend. 

So, you can see why we love Frassati so much!  We are blessed to have such a powerful intercessor for our firstborn and for our family. P.S. His feast day is TOMORROW!!!!! Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us!

What does it mean to be “blessed” (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and “thinking small” when it comes to the meaning of life. Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati once said, “To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live”
— Pope Francis

Wanting to learn more about Frassati? Here are 10 More Reasons to Love Blessed Pier Giorgio.

And if you're still interested in his life (which you totally should be), here's a great short video about how vibrantly he lived out the Gospel, earning him the title "Man of the Beatitudes".  Also, if you're curious about the meaning behind verso l'alto Fr. Barron does a great job explaining it.  It's one of my favorites!