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Gaspare del Bufalo

(1786—1837)


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(1786–1837),

founder of the Missioners of the Precious Blood, priest. Born in Rome the son of a chef, he was educated at the Collegio Romano and ordained priest in 1808. When Napoleon took Rome, Gaspare with most of the Roman clergy refused to renounce his allegiance to the Holy See and went into exile for five years. When he returned, he was faced with a decline in religion owing to the lack of priests and sacraments. He hoped to arrest this by preaching missions and founding a congregation devoted to this work. The pope gave him a church and palazzo in Giano for this work. Other foundations followed in towns with the worst reputations, six of which were in the kingdom of Naples.

His training of young clergy (begun in 1824) included the encouragement of devotion to Jesus and to Mary. But devotion was not enough: study of Scripture, theology, and foreign languages were also necessary. ‘Missioners’, he would say, ‘must be ready for anything: like soldiers and sailors, they must never surrender.’ Always on the move from one town to another, they preached missions which were often dramatic: Vincenzo Strambi described them as a spiritual earthquake. The priests would take the discipline in public, they would burn firearms, obscene books, and anything else which they thought might offend Almighty God.

In Rome he founded charitable institutions for young and old, men and women. Here he died during the cholera epidemic; he is buried at S. Maria in Trivio. Miracles were reported during his life and after his death. He was canonized in 1954. Feast: 28 December.

Live by G. de Libero, San Gaspare del Bufalo romano (1954);B.L.S., xii. 221–3;Bibl. SS., vi. 40–3.

Subjects: Christianity.


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