St. Gaspar del Bufalo
Two Founders Meet
During his second stay in Rome, St. Eugene met with St. Gaspar del Bufalo, founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Together they talked about the possibility of a “merger” between the two groups. This was something about which St. Eugene may have been thinking for some time, since already in 1826 he had visited St. Gaspar to get to know the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, who were founded in the same period as the Oblates (August 15, 1815). The benefits of such a merger were the same as those which St. Eugene had seen in the two previous attempts at union with Bruno Lanteri’s Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and with the missionary community of Abbé Favre, in Chambery: broaden the field of action of the Congregation and reinforce it with other priests dedicated to the same ministry. St. Eugene said he was moved by the “inspiration of the Lord”, by “a true desire to increase the good of the Church of God”, so that “the Church (is) better served, and souls better helped in their spiritual needs.” The unification project did not go ahead because the Missionaries of the Precious Blood did not intend to be bound by religious vows, a crucial difference between the two institutions. The following letter from St. Eugene to Gaspar del Bufalo is presumed to be in October 1832.
I have carefully read the summary and other letters from the Very Rev. Canon del Buffalo, and I was very edified. Seeing so many good priests dedicated to such a holy life and elevated ministry, I regret all the more that my views could not be accepted.
When I proposed to the Venerable Confraternity of the Most Precious Blood to unite with our small Congregation of the Immaculate Conception I was moved by a true desire to increase the good the Church of God does, and if on one hand I considered acquiring many excellent priests as a blessing to our Congregation, be assured that, in the sincerity of zeal that God gives me to see the completion of his holy work, I thought it would be a great advantage for the pious Union of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood to merge with a Society that had been elevated to the rank of a religious Congregation in the Church, in which the Pious Union would have found the same spirit, the same ministry and almost the same rule, and of which she would have immediately constituted the major and most certainly not the least interesting portion. It seemed that the Confraternity would gain in perfection and stability and that if by the proposed union the Congregation acquired a new splendor and greater extension, God would accordingly be more glorified, the Church better served and souls would receive more help in their spiritual needs.
Such were my thoughts. I still think the same way, leaving God to make known to all these very worthy priests who form the Pious Union and the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, the great value of the vows that unfortunately scare some. Moreover, by making this step I obeyed the inspiration that the Lord showed me as being for his glory and I leave the review and responsibility to the one who has greater insight and graces than I, and I rest in the peace of a heart which, no matter what happens, will always say with confidence “particeps ego sum omnium timentium te.”
+ Charles-Jos. Eugène, Bishop of Icosia, s.g. o.m.i.
Ciardi, Un projet de fusion avec les Missionnaires du Précieux Sang, “Vie Oblate Life” 37 (1978), p. 65-71.