Blessed Sebastian Valfrè

Amongst the Oratorians – to whom I owe more than I could ever give back – Blessed Sebastian Valfrè is celebrated on this day, the anniversary of his death in 1710. I’m a bit short on time to write a bio – but may do so soon, as I have a devotion to this particular beatus – but here is one from the Birmingham Oratory, which Cardinal Newman founded.

Father Sebastian joined the Turin Oratory on May 26th, 1651 – now the feast of Saint Philip – and was devoted to his sacramental ministry, especially in the confessional, to the poor and to preaching and educating his flock. He wrote much – his works fill 22 volumes, including an influential catechism that was widely used until that of Pope Pius X. One thing I have always recalled was that Father Sebastian was renowned for his patience, kindness and equanimity, even though he once privately admitted that he had an ungovernable temper, but the long work of constant small acts of mortification led him over time to sanctity. We can only imagine what that cost him.

As Saint Philip would say, we don’t become a saint in a day, and that what we know of the saints is the least part of them, which is comforting to us who still display the weaknesses and foibles of fallen humanity. We’re all – or should be – saints in the making, and may the good Pater Sebastian intercede for us on that pilgrimage.