Cardinal George

Longtime barber made Cardinal George laugh and look good

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Thursday, April 23, 2015

Archbishop Cupich says hellow to Cardinal George's barber, Alfredo Fricano, prior to announcing to media the cardinal's passing on April 17 at 10:45 a.m. at a press conference in Holy Name Cathedral's courtyard. Karen Callaway/Catholic New World

Alfredo Fricano is probably one of the only people who could get away with telling Cardinal George he looked like a “bum.”

Once, the cardinal’s long time barber — who his clients just call Alfredo — saw the cardinal on TV and noticed he needed a haircut so he called the residence.

“I said, ‘Your Eminence, you look like a bum.’ He said, ‘Who is this?’ And I said, ‘Your hairstylist.’ I said, ‘Your hair, you need a haircut. You want to ruin my business?’” Alfredo recalled in his Italian accent, gesturing with his hands.

The cardinal laughed and the next day he was in for a haircut. The two men often joked with each other.

Alfredo said the cardinal was a good man with a great sense of humor who patronized his shop at State Street and Chicago Avenue for 15 years.

When the cardinal’s health really declined Alfredo started going to the residence every two weeks to trim the cardinal’s hair and give him a shave and a shoulder massage because his muscles were all cramped up.

“Matter of fact I was there three days ago. Sunday morning I did him,” Alfredo said the afternoon of Cardinal George’s death. “He looked great. Really. We talked and everything. Every time I come in there I give him a hug.”

Cardinal George always asked Alfredo if there was anything he could do for him. “I said, ‘Your Eminence, all you can do for me is say a little prayer.’”

Throughout the friendship, Alfredo refused Cardinal George’s offer of payment.

“I said, ‘Your Eminence, you insult me. It’s an honor to have you come in my establishment.” Alfredo wanted just one thing from the cardinal. “Say a little prayer for me,” he would tell him.

Once Cardinal George confided that he missed having homemade grappa, which he often had during his time living in Rome.

“I says, ‘You got it.’ I live in Highland Park near Highwood and I know everybody who makes homemade grappa,” Alfredo told the Catholic New World.

“I give him a bottle and he just love it.” The cardinal told him he would have a little before bed and “sleep like a baby.”

“I think he was a great man,” Alfredo said. “To me, he was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met.”


  • cardinal cupich
  • cardinal george
  • holy name cathedral

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