Volume One focuses on devotion to the Blood of Christ in the Life and Apostolate of Saint Gaspar. This book traces the spiritual journey of St Gaspar as he allowed the fire of Christ’s love, expressed so profoundly in the mystery of the Precious Blood, to transform him into a living fire of love, the preeminent apostle of the Blood of Christ.
This book traces the spiritual journey of St. Gaspar as he allowed the fire of Christ’s love, expressed so profoundly in the mystery of the Precious Blood, to transform him into a living fire of love, the preeminent apostle of the Blood of Christ.
In his letters St. Gaspar sometimes uses the metaphor of to describe the divine love and in several places he quotes the words of Jesus: ‘I have come to cast fire on the earth’ (Lk 12: 49). The fire Jesus has come to cast on the earth is, in Gaspar’s understanding, the fire of his love for us. Gaspar came to see the spirituality of the Blood of Christ as being a particularly suitable means for describing this burning love of Jesus. The Precious Blood was the great symbol that he used to draw people to a greater awareness of that love. Gaspar himself was aflame with that love throughout his ministry. In the words of Don Beniamino, St. Gaspar . . . appeared as a fire of love for the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, completely intent on kindling a great blaze of that love in the Church for the benefit of souls and for the praise, honor, glory, and power of Him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb that was slain (Rv 5: 13). (Cf. page 79 of this volume.)
This volume contains the first and larger of the two parts of Fr. Conti’s original, published in 1970 and reissued in 1978 and 2002. (The second part, dealing with Gaspar’s preaching on the Precious Blood, will be published as a future volume of this series.) As Don Beniamino notes in his own introduction, in the first section of the book we follow the development of the devotion to the Precious Blood in Gaspar’s life as well as the ways in which he sought to spread the devotion in his apostolic life.
Throughout the book Don Beniamino provides us with a rich selection of citations from the writings of Gaspar as well as the first-person witness of those who knew him well, like his protégé John Merlini, his spiritual director Biagio Valentini, and his friends Saints Vincenzo Strambi and Vincenzo Pallotti. (Unfortunately we have little written witness to the spiritual friendship between Gaspar and his mentor Don Francesco Albertini, who introduced the devotion to the Precious Blood to the young Canon del Bufalo.) All of these and other references are amply documented in the endnotes and provide us with primary sources for understanding Gaspar’s spiritual development and apostolic zeal.
Fr. Conti, a member of the Italian Province, has had a lifelong dedication to research on the life of St. Gaspar and has been prolific in his publications. Among the many works to his credit, is the editing of the latest edition of the letters of St. Gaspar as well as four volumes of the early regulations of the Congregation and four volumes of the miscellaneous spiritual writings of Gaspar.
It would be appropriate to make a few remarks on the translation. First, where necessary I have inserted English translations of Italian and Latin words and phrases, using the model of the Modern Language Association and enclosing the English translation within single quotes following the foreign language. In translating the quotations from the Scriptures I have generally followed the Douay-Rheims version, since most quotations are from the Latin Vulgate and the Douay is a translation of the Vulgate. I have also supplied chapter and verse references for the quotations; these are generally not found in the original texts.
For translations of the letters of Gaspar as well as several other Italian sources I have relied on the invaluable work of the late Fr. Raymond Cera, C.PP.S., who translated nearly all of the close to four thousand extant letters into English. English translations of the letters as well as of the depositions of Merlini, Valentini, and Pallotti (also the work of Fr. Cera) are currently available only in digital form and and have only been published in a looseleaf, photocopied edition.
Where English translations of source material exist I have given those references in addition to the references to the original Italian or Latin documents. Many of the citations come from sources that have not been translated. I have not provided English translations for these citations, believing that anyone wishing to pursue such a reference in an endnote would have some knowledge of the language in question.
In matters of capitalization and punctuation of quoted documents, I have adhered to the original text even if this does not conform to current form and style in English. For example, in many original texts we find words capitalized that would not be capitalized in modern English. Speaking of capitalization, modern Italian would usually capitalize the “Del” in Del Bufalo, although Gaspar himself used the lowercase form, “del.” This is the reason why both forms are found in contemporary Italian texts.
I would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Pauline Vokits, who formatted the text for printing, proofread the text with great diligence, and offered many helpful suggestions. Jean Giesige also read the translation and offered useful comments and is responsible for the new cover design for C.PP.S. Resources which debuts with this volume. The image of St. Gaspar on the cover is used with permission of Fr. Jeffrey Finley, C.PP.S., who commissioned the painting of the icon.
Translating this book has been a rewarding task and has given me the opportunity to become much better acquainted with Gaspar through the words of Fr. Conti who knows him so well. I hope that this work will be read by many, especially by members and Companions of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, so that all of us might come to know better this great Apostle of the Precious Blood. May we, too, be transformed by the fire of that divine love that Jesus came to bring to our world.
Jerome Stack, C.PP.S.
July 1, 2008
Feast of the Most Precious Blood