vendredi 30 janvier 2015


Saint Sébastien Valfré, prêtre

Prêtre de l'Oratoire de saint Philippe Néri, il passa toute sa vie à Turin, directeur spirituel très sollicité. Il aimait visiter les prisonniers et les infirmes. Sa grande capacité d'amitié lui fit conduire beaucoup de juifs à la foi en Jésus-Christ.  « Le père qui avait le paradis dans ses yeux » mourut en 1710.   


Saint Sébastien Valfré

Oratorien ( 1710)

Prêtre de l'Oratoire de saint Philippe Néri, il passa toute sa vie à Turin, directeur spirituel très sollicité. Il aimait visiter les prisonniers et les infirmes. Sa grande capacité d'amitié lui fit conduire beaucoup de juifs à la foi en Jésus-Christ. Il fut béatifié en août 1834.

Voir aussi (en anglais) sur le site de l'Oratoire de Birmingham.

À Turin dans le Piémont, en 1710, le bienheureux Sébastien Valfré, prêtre de l’Oratoire, qui se dévoua tout entier à aider les pauvres, les malades et les prisonniers et, par son amitié et son exquise charité, il conduisit bien des personnes au Christ.

Martyrologe romain

'Le père qui avait le paradis dans ses yeux'

Blessed Sebastian Valfrè 


Sebastian Valfrè is one of the most important members of the Piedmontese clergy, and the forerunner of the many Saints who have graced the Church of Turin in recent centuries. Sebastian was born at Verduno, in the Diocese of Alba, on 9th March, 1629. His family was poor, but despite hardships and difficulties he managed to follow a course of studies at Alba, Bra and finally Turin.
He joined the Oratory of Turin on 26th May, 1651, and was ordained priest on 24th February, 1652. He gained his doctorate in theology in 1656. He went on to hold many of the offices at the Oratory and, although he declined being made Archbishop of his city, he nevertheless, through his tireless work, is honoured as the Apostle of Turin. His particular concerns were the teaching of the Catechism, hearing confessions, giving spiritual direction, helping the poor and the sick, widows, orphans and prisoners. Sebastian became confessor to the Piedmontese Royal Family and his influence at Court enabled him to do much for the poor of the city. He was greatly devoted to the Shroud of Turin, and there is a print in existence, showing him supervising some repair work being done to the Shroud.
During his years in Turin the Kingdom endured several wars, including a siege of the city. He organised practical aid for the soldiers – so much so that today he is invoked as the patron of military chaplains. He introduced to Turin the Forty Hours Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged devotion to Our Lady, inspiring King Victor Amadeus II to build the Basilica of Superga. Sebastian also helped in the founding of the Accademia at Rome, for the training of Papal diplomats. He is remembered, too, in difficult times, for striving to build up good relations with both Protestants and Jews in Piedmont.
The Archives of the Turin Oratory possess some 22 volumes of his writings. One of his most important works was his ‘Compendium of Christian Doctrine’, a catechism organised on a question and answer basis. This rapidly became a well-used teaching aid, and lasted until the introduction of the Catechism of Pope Pius X.
‘The Father who had Paradise in his eyes’ died at Turin on 30th January, 1711, and was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on 31st August, 1834. His body rests in a silver shrine in the Oratory Church in Turin. His feast is kept each year on 30th January.
Blessed Sebastian Valfrè, pray for us!


Sebastian Valfrè was born on 9th March 1629 at Verduno in the southern Alps. His background was humble: his mother and father were poor farmers, and the dull routine of work in the fields with his parents and seven siblings took up much of his childhood. He felt a call to the priesthood at an early age, but ran into difficulties with his family, who were loathe to lose his assistance with the farm work; however, he persevered and eventually won them over. He left Verduno to begin his studies in 1641 at the age of twelve, and again these were not easy for him: at one stage he had to stay up most nights copying out books to pay for his education, which took him in its later stages to Turin for studies with the Jesuits.
Also at Turin was the Oratory, which had in earlier years been influential, particularly on the youth of the city, but by 1650 was rather down-at-heel: only one priest, Fr Cambiani, remained, and he is described as ‘ragged and eccentric’. It can hardly have been an enticing prospect in human terms, but Sebastian nonetheless joined it on St Philip's Day, 26th May 1651, being ordained deacon only a week later. By the end of the year, the community had been bolstered by the arrival of three new priests, so by the time Sebastian was ordained priest in February 1652, the Oratory showed signs of life once more.
Turin soon began to benefit from his presence as a priest. In common with many cities of that and other ages, it had its share of poverty, which Sebastian did much to alleviate. He was not afraid to ask the rich for alms to give to the poor, but he took care to be as discreet as possible, doing much of the distribution at night when it was easier to remain anonymous. These activities took on heightened importance from 1678 to 1680, when famine struck Piedmont, and again during the war between Piedmont and Louis XIV, which culminated for Turin in a seventeen-week siege which caused great hardship as well as anxiety — and which Sebastian's prayers are said to have been efficacious in bringing to a successful end for the inhabitants.
If Sebastian was esteemed by the less well-off, he was also on good terms with those who were more fortunate. In particular, he maintained good relations with the Dukes of Savoy, one of whom, Victor Amadeus II, he had helped to form from the age of nine into the just ruler he later became. Sebastian was the spiritual director to the entire court of the Duke, and such was the esteem in which he was held that at one stage the Duke did his best to procure the Archbishopric of Turin for Sebastian. His cause was furthered by the good reputation which he had in the Vatican, but Sebastian's humility led him to dread this ecclesiastical dignity, and was profoundly grateful to be able to avoid accepting it.
Sebastian's corporal works of mercy went hand in hand with the spiritual. He was very reluctant at first to start taking on the special responsibility for souls involved in hearing confessions — again, his humility is evident — but, once he did, his reputation spread throughout the city. He also searched out penitents far and wide — hospitals, schools, convents, barracks, prisons, galleys all benefited from his concern for spiritual well-being. His success in this field, as well as in his approach to life in the Oratory in general, was probably due above all else to his blending of careful attention to detail with a genuine compassion, and his penances reflected this. His penitents told of his ability to read souls. Sebastian's work in the confessional was at the very least instrumental in sparking something of a revival of religious observance in Turin: like St Philip, it was said that he had the gift of discernment of spirits.
The life of Sebastian Valfrè was not one of extravagant and heroic deeds done for God, but of the sanctification of an existence of regular routine, year in, year out, and of service to God in the circumstances of ordinary life. His cheerful and attractive manner were an example, and he also had his fair share of difficulties which he had to work hard to overcome. He was, for example, rather petulant and sensitive by nature, being easily offended: he remedied this by trying to be unfailingly polite even to those who hurt him. He also knew what it was to suffer from spiritual darkness, finding prayer a real struggle at times, and study even more unattractive. But his perseverance, which manifested itself from his earliest years, stood him in good stead.
Sebastian died early in the morning of January 30th 1710; miracles began even before he could be buried, and he was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1834.
Grant us, we beseech you, O Lord, that, as you did wonderfully raise your priest Blessed Sebastian, for the salvation of many, so we may persevere in your love, for the sake of helping souls. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Copyright © The Oxford Oratory 2009–2015

The Oxford Oratory Trust is a Registered Charity number 1018455


Blessed Sebastian Valfre, C.O.
Born: March 9, 1629
Died: January 30, 1710
Beatified: August 31, 1834

When Sebastian Valfre joined the Oratory of Turin as a 22-year-old seminarian in 1651, the community was down to one member. By the time of his ordination the following year, three more priests had joined the Oratory; this was a sign of the great impact Fr. Valfre would have on the Church in Piemonte and beyond.

Fr. Valfre is known for his work with the poor, despite his attempts to work discretely and anonymously. He was particularly effective in his service of the poor during the famine of 1678-80 and the 17-week siege of Turin during the war between Piemonte and Louis XIV. He is still invoked as patron of military chaplains for his ministry to soldiers during the war.

As a confessor, Fr. Valfre was known for his attentiveness and compassion. Along with his promotion of Marian devotion and the Forty Hours, his work in the confessional is credited with a religious revival in Turin, and he served as confessor to the royal family of Piemonte. He declined appointment as archbishop of Turin out of humility.

Fr. Valfre was also a scholar, earning a doctorate in theology at age 27. His writings run to 22 volumes, including a catechism called the Compendium of Christian Doctrine, which remained in use until the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X.

The Apostle of Turin died on January 30, 1710. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1834.


Blessed Sebastian Velfré, Orat. (AC)

(also known as Sebastian Valfré)

Born at Verduno, Alba, Italy, in 1629; died in Turin, Italy, 1710; beatified in 1834. Sebastian joined the Oratorians at Turin after his ordination to the priesthood. He became prefect of the Oratory and was much demanded as a spiritual director because of the endless care he gave to each who came to him for help. But he did not just wait for sinners to come to him, he sought them out and converted many. Sebastian acquired in full measure the spirit of Saint Philip Neri, whose cheerfulness he imitated through even the most grieous spiritual trials (Attwater2, Benedictines).