St. Gaspare Del Bufalo

A SPIRITUAL EARTHQUAKE

The death of Mons. Francesco Albertini was a hard blow for Gaspar Del Bufalo, who expressed himself as follows to a confrere as soon as he learned about it:  “Let us not stop working anyway, even though we have lost our common father; rather, let us take greater courage, trusting that he will help us from heaven with prayer.” In these words there is all the determination that Albertini had induced in Gaspar. And it was the love that Gaspar had for that deceased father of his, by whom he had been spiritually adopted as firstborn son, which made him so committed to keeping his inherited project – the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood - alive.

Gaspar Del Bufalo, son of Prince Altieri’s cook and his very pious wife, was born in Rome on January 6, 1789. His personality raises a question for us: which are more important—those love affairs that explode like lightning and light up the day, or those that mature gradually like dawn and grow until they reach full daylight? It is a false question because both are ways of reaching broad daylight. Love like a flash of lightning has importance if the flash does not become extinguished like light does when we turn off the switch; and love like  the light of day has importance if it does not decline again in a couple of hours toward the dark of night.

Gaspar Del Bufalo, having understood the inexhaustible riches of the spirituality based on the Blood of Christ, became its greatest apostle and messenger through the Missionaries that he gathered around him and formed for their task. He unceasingly traveled the roads of central Italy, preaching hundreds of parish missions, inviting people to overcome social and political hatreds and to rediscover a necessary solidarity in a communion founded on the Blood of Christ. In fact, the Blood of Christ was shed for all people; it is the cost, the value of each person.  No one is more than another, or less than another. The entire life of a person, having been claimed by Christ, is redeemed.

This conviction is also the basis for Gaspar Del Bufalo’s efforts in favor of the brigands or bandits who, because of the political situation, lived in the mountains. They threatened people’s lives, paralyzed merchants and put human lives at risk. Everyone wanted their physical destruction via death, but Gaspar fought for their dignity as men to be respected. “The Lord had poured out his blood also for them !”

Gaspar Del Bufalo preached the Word of God pouring out his heart abundantly and passionately, but also and especially with the example of total dedication. His life was an example of a life full of discomforts. Gaspar’s witness was impressive and his activism makes one think of bi-location, so rapidly did he move from one place to another in his mission and preaching. He was an example to many priests who thought of their life as a habitual job. Fr. Giovanni Merlini, a disciple of Gaspar, said in the funeral homily: “Dear father, after God I owe everything to you!”

It was really the zeal of Fr. Gaspar, observed during the mission in her town of Vallecorsa, which revealed to Maria De Mattias the vocation that she had been wondering about for three months. She was disappointed with her life until then, as it was filled with frivolity and fear. Maria did not speak with Gaspar; perhaps she did not understand much of the words he said during the mission. But she saw him work with great dedication and be considerate toward everyone. That was enough for her.

If Christ had given his own life, up to the last drop of blood, the Missionary Gaspar had to do the same, especially if he preached this devotion to the Precious Blood. He would say: “I would like to have a thousand tongues in order to preach the glories of the Most Precious Blood.” At another time: “I would like to die in the harness, that is, on the stage, preaching the love that Christ reveals by giving his Blood for us.”  And, in a certain sense, he was heard.  He died at Rome on December 28, 1837, worn out from his labors and because of a preaching engagement he did not want to give up, even though suffering from pneumonia.