Saint Gaspar del Bufalo
Family, we have a special Super Saint of the 19th century to share with you today, St. Gaspar del Bufalo. His shrine is all over Rome, but his body is venerated in the Church of Santa Maria in Trivio, about a block in back of the Fountain of Trevi.
When we mention the name, Gaspar del Bufalo to our brothers and sisters in the United States, most Americans know virtually nothing about him. And yet, he was a very powerful worker for the Lord. He is credited with many things, including being the founder of a Religious Order, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, which is very active in the United States, as well as all over the world. Gaspar stood up against the powers of hell, which in his day was Napoleon Bonaparte and his reign of terror. Gaspar was a thorn in the side of Napoleon and his cohorts during their occupation of Italy. He spent most of Napoleon’s time as ruler of Italy either in exile or jail. However, by 1815, Napoleon was gone, and Gaspar was there to pick up the pieces of a broken country, and a wounded Church. He was able to found the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood that same year.
But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In order to bring you the exciting story of this zealot for the Lord, we must start at the beginning. Gaspar was born in Rome on January 6, 1786, the Feast of the Epiphany, which accounts for his name, Gaspar, Melchior,
Balthasar del Bufalo, in honor the three Wise Men. He came from humble circumstances. But his father was a hard working ambitious man. He wanted the best for his family. He worked as a cook for a prominent Roman family. So although Gaspar never had enough to eat, and they feared he would die at an early age, he did have some benefits in living in the home of this prince of the nobility. He was able to get some medical help at a time when it was all but impossible for the poor to obtain. And he needed it all his young life. And as we will see, he was able to get some ideal educational help because of where he lived.
A great blessing about the Altieri Palace, where they lived, and where the father worked, was that it was right across the street from the Gesú, the Mother Church of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuit community. There is a chapel in that Gesú dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, one of the founders and great Saints, along with St. Ignatius of Loyola, of the Jesuit order. Gaspar’s mother, Annunziata, prayed often at that chapel. There was a relic of St. Francis’ arm at the foot of the altar, where Annunziata knelt. She prayed there every day, sometimes twice and three times a day.
We have to believe the Lord orchestrated everything in the life of this future Saint. Gaspar was a very sickly child, very frail.. A time was to come when Gaspar, only a year or so old, was going blind. He suffered from an incurable disease of the eyes. Annunziata prayed for a healing for her son. She had great faith in the power of prayer, and in the great Saint, Francis Xavier’s intercession. God blessed her faith and miraculously cured Gaspar of his eye’s affliction. Annunziata thanked Our Lord Jesus and the intercession of St. Francis Xavier the rest of her life. She told her son many times throughout his life of the miraculous cure he had received through the gift of prayer.
Gaspar took St. Francis Xavier as his special Saint and put his religious congregation under the protection of the Apostle of India. Gaspar studied about St. Francis Xavier, and also developed a great love for the missions. However, the mission the Lord had planned for him was to be confined to Italy. That is not to say that his followers, those who joined his congregation, did not travel to all parts of the world, creating missions, evangelizing in the name of the Lord. Today, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood has a worldwide ministry.
It was obvious the Lord had hand-picked his family. He used the best of both parents to help Gaspar in accomplishing what the Lord had planned for him. From his father, he inherited the drive and organizational skills to decide what he wanted to do, determine how to do it, and get the job done. From his mother, he was given the gift of his spirituality. From the time he was a child, probably from the time he could understand the teachings of his mother, she shared with him stories of Our dear Lord Jesus, His Mother Mary, all the Angels and the Saints. Gaspar was very spiritual, very reverent, completely committed to Our Lord Jesus in the Catholic Church. He took her sensitivity, her love for the oppressed, her strong Christian convictions, and love of all things that had to do with Church. In his early years, he was fortunate in that living at the palace, he was able to be taught by highly qualified teachers. However, his later experience in the public schools was not good at all, as there was no comparison to the learning atmosphere of the palace. His father and mother deeply concerned with their son’s education, agreed to pay what, for them, was a highly exorbitant tuition to have their son attend a school run by priests of a religious order. This helped with Gaspar’s religious formation.
At age 12, Gaspar was admitted to the Collegio Romano, to prepare for his future life as a priest and ambassador of God. He spent the next 11 years in this seminary, completing all his formation for the priesthood, and being ordained to the various ministries of the Church, such as sub deacon, deacon, and finally, just before ordination, to acting Canon in the Basilica of San Marco in Rome. Then, on July 31, 1808, he was ordained a priest at the Church of the Missionaries of Saint Vincent de Paul in the Montecitorio
area of Rome. He was now ready to begin his career for the Lord. Although he was only 21 years old when he was ordained, he began preaching missions immediately. His training at the hands of his dear mother, and then the priests of the Collegio Romano bore fruit early on. He was a popular speaker throughout Rome. He was doing what the Lord had planned for him and the Lord blessed him.
That is, until he locked horns with the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. The year after his ordination, 1809, Napoleon took over Italy. In May, he overpowered the Papal States; in June, Pope Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon, and in July, Napoleon arrested the Pope, and sent him to France to sit out Napoleon’s reign in prison. All the loyal priests in Italy knew their future was insecure. The French rulers did not want to close the Catholic Church; they wanted to control it.
So they required all religious in the country to take an oath of allegiance to Napoleon. Many priests gave in. Many did not. Gaspar was not about to betray his Pope, and so he refused, saying resolutely, “I cannot, I must not, and I will not.” In 1810, he was exiled to a prison in Piacenza in northern Italy. It was a hell-hole. The conditions in Piacenza were unbearable. That, coupled with his frail health, caused him to become deathly ill, and so he was transferred to Bologna. Earlier that year, a nun in Rome, the Venerable Sister Agnes of the Incarnate Word, prior to dying in Rome, predicted to Fr. Albertini, Gaspar’s mentor, that there would be a community of priests and nuns of the Precious Blood which would be founded by Gaspar del Bufalo. When Gaspar was so ill Fr. Albertini told him of the prophecy of Sister Agnes. Immediately, he regained his health.
Things were better for Gaspar and his friend in Bologna that year. He and Fr. Albertini were allowed to live in an old palace. Although he slept in the servant’s quarters in the attic, he was able to celebrate Mass again! He studied in the University. All was going well when two devastating things happened. His friend, Fr. Albertini, was sent to the Bastia prison in Corsica, where he suffered for the rest of the war. As if that was not enough, Gaspar’s sainted mother, Annunziata, died. Her heart gave out. There were those who said she died of a broken heart because her son had been taken away from her and been imprisoned. She was 50 years old.
The following year, 1812, did not prove to be any better, as it was a period of exile and imprisonment for Gaspar. In September, he and a group of deported priests were brought in front of the French government and asked to take the oath of loyalty to Napoleon. They all refused. Gaspar was sent to a prison, San Giovanni in Monte in Bologna, where he languished in terrible conditions for the next six months. The prison was so foul and seedy, it was unbearable for most, but for Gaspar, who had grown up in a palace, it was a real hardship.
There’s an old adage, “When fate hands you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s exactly what St. Gaspar did. It was very obvious the French were determined to break their spirits. But our future Saint followed the way, another future Saint, the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux would take. He and another priest, who were confined together under the worst conditions, behaved as if they were living in a palace. They slept on bare boards. They never let on how uncomfortable it was. They were given dirty soup to eat. They said it was delicious. It just went on and on. They offered everything up, for many petitions, one, the end of the captivity for their Pope and for themselves, and a final resolution of the Napoleon question. The French in charge came to the conclusion that there were too many in the one prison, and they were fortifying each others’ spirits.
So at the beginning of 1813, the French took half of them, of which Gaspar was one, and sent them to a far worse prison if that was possible, in Imola. The logic was that after six months in a prison
like Imola, they should be ready to agree to anything. In January, 1813, Napoleon had forced Pope Pius VII to issue a statement of sort of reconciliation, called the Second Concordant, which the Pope then recanted a few days later. But this would have allowed his priests to take the loyalty oath, according to French logic. So in May, Gaspar was asked again to take the oath of loyalty, and again he refused, insisting “I cannot, I must not, and I will not.” He was told about the Pope signing the Second Concordat, but Gaspar still refused.
The French were furious. They took Fr. Gaspar and all those who had not taken the oath of loyalty, and sent them to an even worse prison in Lugo di Romagna. Their time there was possibly the worst of all their imprisonment. Now, the number of priests who had refused to take the loyalty oath had dwindled considerably. These fourteen were severe holdouts. The French had to either break them or send them to Corsica, which amounted to a near death sentence. We believe our Saint would have gone to his death rather than give his loyalty to anyone other than his pope. But the Lord intervened.
In December, Gaspar was sent back to Bologna, and again the French ordered him to take the loyalty oath. He refused for what would be the last time. That was it. He was sent to Florence to prepare for his last trip, to Corsica, which would ultimately lead to his death. But Napoleon came up against his greatest adversary, and the One he gave no importance to at all, God. Before the end of the year, Napoleon’s armies had suffered defeat after defeat. He was all but finished, and by the beginning of the new year, he was on his way to his first place of exile, Elba. In January, 1814, all the priests in Italy were freed, and allowed to return to their homes. Gaspar was on his way back to Rome, and a powerful ministry for the Lord.
During the almost four years Gaspar was incarcerated, he dreamed about going back to Rome and working with the people he’d left behind. He yearned to teach the people about Our Lord Jesus in the Sacraments, Our dear Mother Mary and the Angels and Saints. While he was still in Florence, awaiting his voyage to the prison in Corsica, he was contacted by a group in Rome called the
Evangelical Workers, asking him to join their group and evangelize all over the countryside. You see, everyone felt confident this horror, which they had been subjected to and were living through, would end. They had ultimate and complete faith that God would deliver them, and so all the priests and religious were planning for the future. Gaspar could not wait to return to his beloved Rome.
But the Rome he came back to was not the Rome he had left. After years of French domination, Rome had been hit badly. Many of the men had not returned yet from enforced servitude. The streets and piazzas were almost empty. The people were in a depressed state. So what did Gaspar and his fellow priests and religious do? They made lemonade! (Remember, we had told you, When fate hands you lemons, make lemonade.”) They got to work. Because there was no formal organization, Fr. Gaspar and a fellow priest, Fr. Gaetano Bonnani, went to the small towns and villages surrounding Rome, preaching, hearing confessions and administering the Sacraments, most importantly Holy Communion.
In Gaspar’s heart, he had always dreamt of giving back to the Jesuits for the gift of healing he had been given as a child, through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier. He wanted to join the Jesuit Order, which had just been restored by Pope Pius VII. He asked the advice of Fr. Albertini, his mentor, who had returned from Corsica to Rome after the defeat of Napoleon. While Fr. Albertini did not think this was the path Gaspar should be traveling, he suggested the young priest follow his dream. Gaspar was not totally convinced that this was the right path, but felt the Lord would guide him through prayer. So he and another young priest asked for and were accepted into the Jesuit community. It was at time that the Lord came through and guided Gaspar. It was through the intercession of Pope Pius VII.
Both Gaspar and Fr. Albertini were invited to have an audience with His Holiness. Gaspar could see how his beloved Pope had aged from the ordeal with Napoleon and the imprisonment in France. But he was their Pope, and he was about to advise them. He said to them, “My dear sons, news has reached me that you are preparing to become Jesuits. It is a very laudable choice, but it does not seem the most appropriate choice for you. You, Don Carlo, will serve in our diplomatic corps; while you, Gaspar, will become a missionary. So go and may God bless you.” Gaspar’s head was spinning as he left the audience with the Pope. But at least there was no question as to what his vocation would be. His Holiness had declared it, “You will be a Missionary!”
And so began the career of one of God’s most powerful missionaries. Having been given the mandate by his Pope, Gaspar threw himself headlong into the ministry of Evangelization. While working throughout Italy, the thought kept coming back to him of the idea his mentor, Fr. Albertini, had talked about, during their time of imprisonment; and then again when they were reunited at the end of the war. Fr. Albertini had suggested a new congregation, dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus. Basically, it would be a ministry of spreading the Faith, opening houses in the Papal States and training young men and women for the tremendous work ahead.
Fr. Gaspar was invited to preach a mission in a small town in the Umbrian valley, Giano, near Spoleto. The bishop who had invited Gaspar to do the mission in preparation for the Feast of All Saints, Monsignor Belisario Cristaldi, turned out to be the catalyst through which the Congregation would have their beginnings.
There was an old abbey and church in the mountains of Umbria, specifically Cerreto. It was called the Abbey of San Felice. It was 1814, and it had been abandoned by the Benedictines four years before. Gaspar fell in love with it. He was inspired by the Holy Spirit that this was it; this was where the new Congregation would begin. Gaspar asked Monsignor Cristaldi for his help, and it was gladly given. Within one month, Pope Pius VII gave his approval for the house and land to be given to the newly created congregation, and along with that, a yearly stipend to help them get started. If this was not the work of the Holy Spirit, we don’t know what was. At any event, the community began, less than a year after Gaspar was released from prison.
However, things were not as rosy as they may sound. The money which the Pope had promised never materialized. The abbey was in a shambles, having been completely abandoned for four years. And if that wasn’t enough, the Archbishop of Spoleto wasn’t quite sure he wanted this new group in his Diocese. It took all that Monsignor Cristaldi could do to finally convince the Archbishop to allow Fr. Gaspar and his Congregation to settle in the Diocese of Spoleto. So, on the one hand, Fr. Gaspar had to appease the Archbishop, and on the other, he had to attempt to persuade his members to run all over the countryside giving missions, and then come back to San Felice to become carpenters, plumbers and all else it took to put the abbey into condition. He lost a few; he gained a few. But by the Feast of the Assumption, 1815, he officially opened the doors of the new mother house of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood.
The first mission given by St. Gaspar as part of the newly formed Congregation of the Precious Blood took place in the Church of St. Nicholas in Carcere, in Rome, on Our Lady’s Feast Day, December 8, 1814. It was the beginning of a great career for our Saint. One of his greatest focuses or goals was to make known to the people the gift Our Lord gave us of His Precious Blood. Gaspar was a powerful speaker. He brought the Word of God to all the cities and villages, up and down Italy. His preaching was known to move so many people to want to confess, that in one town, San Severino, fifty priests were needed to hear confessions from all who wanted reconciliation.
Preaching about the Precious Blood was something that was not thought about at that time, as it really is not in our time. There were those who didn’t even like the name of the Congregation. But to Gaspar, and his mentor, Fr. Albertini, the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus was of such importance, they felt a need to bring devotion from the churches to the streets where they preached. He felt a great need to show the significance and value of devotion to the Precious Blood. He said: “All the Faith is centered, because all the Faith in its glory branches out from this devotion.” To him, the devotion to the Blood of Christ was not a practice of piety, like all other devotions. He said: The other devotions are all means of facilitating Catholic piety, but this is its base, its support and its essence.”
St. Gaspar felt called to renew an apostolate which had been all but lost since the occupation of Italy by Napoleon, preaching to the rich and the poor, those in the cities and small villages, following in the footsteps of Sts. Philip Neri and Alphonsus Ligouri. Everywhere he went, the people were starving to hear the word of God, to reconcile with the Church, and receive the Sacraments. His method of preaching, very simple and according to the Magisterium of the Church, found many followers, and in a short period of time, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood had grown into a larger community.
Don’t get the impression that all was roses during these missions. Most of the time, he and his companions were ill-treated and threatened with bodily harm. In one instance, enemies of the Church spread rumors that Gaspar and his brothers were secret police from the Vatican, spying on the people. The missionaries were met at the gates of the city by a group claiming they feared for their lives. Gaspar was told it was dangerous for him and his community to enter the city. He would not be intimidated by these threats. As he opened the mission, he spoke the words of St. Paul: “My life is Christ and death a gain.”
The threats on their lives did not end there. All during the retreat, Freemasons tried to harm him by poisoning him, which did not work. One asked to see him for counseling. When he was alone with Fr. Gaspar, he pulled out a knife. Gaspar, upon seeing this, immediately asked if the man wanted to confess his sins. The man broke down, dropped the knife, confessed and was converted. The man’s cohorts, upon seeing what happened to their friend, fled for their lives. But they bolted so quickly, their carriage went out of control and careened off the road into the river. They all drowned.14
Through the suggestion of Monsignor Cristaldi, now a Cardinal, and advisor to the Pope, Fr. Gaspar and his band of disciples took on a bold task, preaching in villages which had been occupied by bandits, called “Briganti”. These bandits were Italians who hid out in the hills during Napoleon’s time in order not to be forced into service to die in the freezing snow of Russia or at the Battle of Lipzeig, which claimed so many victims. So they formed a band of outlaws who raided villages, robbing, raping and murdering indiscriminately. The Pope had wanted to destroy the cities where the briganti were the strongest. But Cardinal Cristaldi felt that Gaspar and his community of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood could have an effect on them. So Gaspar and his men set up six missions in this area which had been termed incorrigible by the government. They preached on the street corners at night. They spoke to the children. They went into the mountains to preach reconciliation to the bandits who hid out there.
The result was nothing short of miraculous. The bandits came out of the mountains, laying their weapons at the feet of Gaspar and his followers. They returned to the Church; they reconciled and changed their lives. The problem with the bandits was controlled. But as we know, no good deed goes unpunished. Many people in high places who had profited from the activities of the bandits were angry that Gaspar and his community had put a halt to the bandits’ criminal ways. They tried to poison the mind of the Pope against Gaspar. They tried to convince Pope Pius VII that Gaspar was a troublemaker, making claims against the Church. Pope Pius VII could not believe this possible, because he knew Gaspar and his community so well.
But when Pope Pius VII died, and Pope Leo XII was elected, Gaspar’s enemies were able to poison the new Pope’s mind. Consequently his attitude was unfavorable towards Gaspar and his community. Gaspar knew that these attacks were aimed at him personally, so he offered to resign as the head of the community. This was at a time when there were abuses in the Church which Gaspar addressed, and attacked. The feelings against Gaspar and his community smoldered for a year and a half. However, it came to a head in July, 1825. Pope Leo XII, incensed by all the lies whispered in his ears, publicly attacked Gaspar and his community in public and criticized the name of the community.
It was definitely time for damage control. Gaspar’s friend and mentor, Cardinal Cristaldi, arranged for a meeting for Gaspar with the Pope’s Chamberlain Secretary. Gaspar spoke eloquently. A meeting was arranged face to face with His Holiness. After listening to the Sainted Gaspar, he was convinced that he was the victim of vicious lies. The Pope embraced Gaspar with the words: “You have many enemies. But do not be afraid. Leo is in favor of you.” For the time being his problems with the Papacy were ended. Further proof of the bond between the Pope and Saint Gaspar came a year later when the Pope praised the Community of the Most Precious Blood during the installation ceremony of the Jesuits in Spoleto.
The Pope’s new high esteem for Gaspar almost backfired on him. Gaspar’s enemies tried to use this to their advantage. They just wanted to get rid of Gaspar. So they suggested to Pope Leo XII that he be promoted to Bishop and be sent to Brazil. The Pope was prepared to make him not only bishop but papal nuncio to Brazil. It was a difficult honor to turn down, but Gaspar felt his work required he remain in Italy. So he begged his good friend, Cardinal Cristaldi, to intervene with the Pope. He did and two of the missionaries of the Precious Blood were sent in Gaspar’s place. Gaspar remained in Rome where he would be at the Pope’s beckoned call.
Gaspar continued with his evangelical work. His main focus was preaching missions, but he also took time to institute a community of women, called the Sister Adorers of the Blood of Christ, and supervised the opening of a school in Albano Laziale, south of Rome. Gaspar continued evangelizing at a fierce pace, as if he knew his time was limited. In June, 1827, on a visit to the Mission house in Albano, he began to feel ill. This would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Gaspar’s enemies reared their heads again when Pope Leo XII died and was replaced by Pope Pius VIII, whose ears were inundated with hate from those who would destroy Gaspar and his community, which by this time, had become very large. The Pope took away all Gaspar’s annuities and financial support. He berated him in public, which completely stunned our Saint. He was so shocked he could not even defend himself against the attacks. But after much prayer and advice from Cardinal Cristaldi, he wrote up a complete history of the community and had it presented to the Pope. Upon reading it, the Pope realized he had been the victim of liars, and recanted what he had said against them, giving them back their freedom and financial support.
But that was not the end of the attacks against him and his community. With the death of Pope Pius VIII and the election of Pope Gregory XVI, it began again. To give our new pope credit, he had a lot on his mind. There were attacks against the Papal States from The French and Austrians, especially in the areas of Bologna and Ancona. He was understandably preoccupied with these problems. And in addition, the Pope was fed lies and calumny against Gaspar and his community. To compound the problem, at this time, Gaspar’s mentor, Cardinal Cristaldi died. Gaspar’s enemies lied to the Pope that Gaspar had become rich from the estate of the deceased Cardinal.
Just about this time, Gaspar wanted to ask His Holiness for Papal approval for his community. Well, it was the wrong time to ask! The Cardinal, who took the place of Cardinal Cristaldi, approached the Pope on behalf of Gaspar and the Community. It resulted in the Pope becoming very upset to the point he threatened not only to cut off their financial aid, but to close them down altogether. He insisted that they were not fit to do the work they had taken on. And so Gaspar found himself back in the frying pan. He was willing to disband the community if that was what was necessary. But the Lord intervened at the 11th hour. Financial aid was restored to the Community, and they were allowed to continue their work. But they did not get canonical approval until 1841, four years after the death of our Saint.
He was first to obey the Rule of the Congregation, even though he was the one who had first dictated it. He said, “It’s God’s will that we become Saints.” When any of the missionaries complained that things were not favorably going their way, he would say over and over again, “Let’s let God take care of it.” When he met resistance to the point of agitated assault, he would insist, as he sang the words of the Apostles, “Let’s go with joy as we have been found worthy of suffering for Christ”. And at other times, when things looked dark, he would say, “If the Cross were lacking, Christ’s inheritance would be lacking”.
He truly possessed the gift of tongues. In one day, in Ancona, he preached a total of sixteen times, to prisoners in the fortress, to clergy, the military and religious as well. He was given the well-earned title, “Apostle of the Marches.” In another instance, he spoke to over 20,000 people gathered in a field. Some were so far away from him they could hardly see him. But his voice could be heard clearly for miles around.
We said that St. Gaspar was ill for many years, but we think that this last rejection from Sweet Christ on earth, his Pope, hastened his demise. But he never let that rejection or his illness stop him from his appointed task. He was born a missionary, and he would die one. He continued on through 1835, but at the end of the year, he developed a cough which seriously incapacitated him. The next year, 1836, a terrible attack of cholera hit the entire Papal States. Most of 1837, his activity was extremely limited due to his health.
He preached his last mission in the Chiesa Nuova in Rome, next to the tomb of St. Philip Neri, apostle of Rome. On December 28, 1837, at two-thirty in the afternoon, he gave himself, body and soul to the Lord. According to St. Vincent Pallotti, who was at his bedside, “As if immersed in a joy of paradise, Gaspar del Bufalo tranquilly and peacefully expired.” He died as he lived embracing Poverty. Dying in extreme poverty he joyfully insisted that all his riches were contained in the Crucifix. As to why he did not write in the Rule, the vows of obedience and poverty, he replied, “Let others take vows, we will observe them.”
St. Gaspar was blessed with many gifts. He had the gift of preaching! He stole men’s hearts, causing many who listened to rush to the confessional. They said of him, “His missions were accompanied by celestial blessings.” People came from far and near to hear him, as he touched their hearts with his love for the Lord and for them. Enormous sums of stolen money were returned. People were reconciled with enemies they had not spoken to for years. Gaspar held up the image of Our Lady of the Most Precious Blood, and heretics recanted; those living in sin turned their lives around. Some said that when he pointed to Jesus’ wounds on the Crucifix, they could feel the excruciating pain in their souls. When people from different countries, who spoke different tongues, heard him, they testified that they heard him in their own tongue. He calmed violent storms from the atmosphere and between neighbors and family.
He had the gift of reading consciences, as well as the hearts and minds of those who came to him, especially in the confessional. He read the thoughts of his missionaries; one time, as he was preaching, he pointed to one of them and said he would leave the Mission. The missionary said he had that very thought when Gaspar was speaking. Some people said that because they were sure he could read their minds, they went to confession before going to meet him. Gaspar had the gift of prophecy! He foresaw future events clearly and they came to pass. He predicted events in his own personal life. He even predicted he would not live a long life and that his assistant would survive him and clothe his lifeless body. He predicted the Institute would suffer greatly and it did, with great opposition causing the closing of Houses and cessation of subsidies.
He also foresaw the plague which devastated Rome. He told one of his missionaries to go and get him a book from the other room. When the others insisted they get it for Gaspar, he stopped them and he insisted that the young man he had chosen go. No sooner had he risen, than a bolt of lightning hit the chair the young man had been sitting on, burning the chair and the tablecloth.
He had the gift of bilocation. At Spello, while he was preaching in the square, in front of hundreds of people, he was also seen sitting in the confessional in the church. This also happened again in the same church six years later. There was a destructive rift that arose between the Brothers of the Oratory. Gaspar was seen trying to mend relationships and bring about peace between the two Brothers; and was also seen preaching in Rome, at that very time. He had the gift of ecstasy. Gaspar experienced frequent ecstasies in his lifetime. Beginning as a small child, he was always in union with Our Lord and after receiving Holy Communion he would go so deeply into ecstasy his mother had to shake him so she could take him home.
When Gaspar prayed he drifted into a trance. Periods of ecstasy almost always occurred when he was praying in front of the Tabernacle, while he was celebrating Mass, or while praying before the Crucifix or Our Lady’s image. At Gaeta, as Gaspar was preaching in the square, he was seen by all the people levitating above the platform. He not only appeared rapt in ecstasy during the times he meditated, but also when he traveled, according to other missionaries who were with him. At day or night it was not unusual to see a bright light coming from under the door of his room. And when they investigated, to see where the light was coming from, they quietly peeked into his room and saw Gaspar kneeling before the Crucifix in his room, surrounded by a bright light.
There are a great many miracles attributed to St. Gaspar del Bufalo, most of which were witnessed by many people. He was remarkable in that he never claimed any special powers for himself, and yet the miracles were ongoing. Most of the miracles attributed to St. Gaspar took place during missions, in which there were many witnesses. We could probably do an entire program on just the miracles for which he was given credit, none of which could be used for his Beatification and Canonization, as only miracles which occurred after he died could be used. However we would like to relate some of the miracles that were attested to be true by the reliable Missionary Merlini.
In 1818, just a few years after he began preaching missions, he went to the province of Macerata, where Our Lady of Loreto holds court in the Holy House. During one mission, as he was preaching, a fierce thunderstorm threatened to drench the people and cause him to stop preaching. He took a painting of Our Lady, His Lady, and blessed the Heavens with it. Immediately, the storm dissipated, and he was able to continue with his sermon.
At Mergo, a poor woman who was not able to walk, had herself brought to Gaspar’s confessional where she pleaded he cure her. Gaspar told her to go before the painting of St. Francis Xavier, and pray he intercede with the Lord for her cure. She was cured before she reached the painting.
At Veroli there was a woman who was hemorrhaging for many years, and the doctors had declared her illness incurable. When she saw Gaspar, she fought her way through the crowd and managed to touch the hem of his cassock. Reminiscent of the woman in the Gospel, she stopped bleeding upon touching the cassock and was healed immediately.
At Ariccia, while Gaspar was carrying a cross that was to be erected in memory of the mission held there, a woman came up to Merlini, one of his Missionaries, carrying her lame child who could not walk. He sent her to Gaspar.
At Veroli a woman touches the hem of his cassock and her hemorrhage is cured.
For several weeks the Community at St. Felix had been without wine. Gaspar blessed an empty barrel and excellent wine poured out of it.
Upon touching his cassock, the next day the child was seen running with other children.
At Giano dell’ Umbria and town after town every time Gaspar prayed, or just appeared, healings came about. At Giano, the community ran out of wine. Gaspar blessed the barrel and the most delicious wine they had ever tasted poured out.
At Spello, blessing themselves with the water Gaspar used to wash himself, cured many sick people. The lame walked; the mentally ill were healed.
At Fabriano, when a mentally ill woman poured boiling water on Gaspar, from a window, he remained unharmed
The first miracle approved for his canonization happened to Francesco Campagna in a little town (Campoli Appennino) where Blessed Gaspar was greatly venerated and his feast day was celebrated every year. He had preached there many times while he was alive and through his intercession many miracles had come about. The young man, Francesco, had been in bed for some time suffering from bronchial pneumonia and acute meningitis. The family all congregated in his room awaiting his inevitable death. They were close to despair, as the young man was only twenty years old. On May 19, 1929, the statue of Blessed Gaspar, being carried in procession, passed under the balcony of the bedroom where the youth lay. Hearing the music and the people singing, the youth fought to free himself from his family, who fearing he would hurt himself had become alarmed. Francesco ran to the balcony and began crying out, “Grant me grace; grant me grace.”
The second miracle came to pass at Sezze Romano to Orsola Bono, a widow with a malignant tumor in the abdomen. She was so far gone, the doctors refused to operate on her and sent her home from the hospital to die. Her children, refusing to accept the doctor’s words as the final prognosis, took a relic of Venerable Gaspar and told her to swallow it. Then the family along with Orsola began to pray for faith and hope. During the night a priest appeared to Orsola. Thinking it was her son, who was a Missionary of the Most Precious Blood, she told him she was so very ill and was dying. The priest in her vision said he was not her son, but the Blessed Gaspar del Bufalo. He told her to take heart, she would be healed. The next morning to the joyful amazement of everyone, Orsola got up from bed, without a sign of the enemy which had invaded her body and threatened her life. She was fully recovered!
On March 19, 1891, Pope Leo XII issued a Decree recognizing Venerable Gaspar del Bufalo’s virtuous life. Pope St. Pius X, accepting the two necessary miracles, proceeded, with great solemnity to beatify Gaspar del Bufalo in 1904 and then Gaspar del Bufalo was canonized on June 12, 1954 by Pope Pius XII.
The Missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood can be found in 18 countries, including the United States. Family, we thank you for sharing with us the life of this most powerful Super Saint. Pray to St. Gaspar del Bufalo for his intercession. Miracles can happen.
About the Authors:
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors of many best selling books about the Catholic Faith. They are hosts on EWTN Global Television and have written over 25 books. They are best known as the authors of “Miracles of the Eucharist books.” They have been dubbed, “Experts on the Saints.”