In Tribute to Don Giuseppe Vallauri: Zealous Defender and Promoter of the Roman Rite

Yesterday morning on the Feast of All Saints, while vested in his sacerdotal vestments and celebrating Holy Mass in suffrage for the dead, a dear priest and our good friend Don Giuseppe Vallauri reposed at age seventy-five.  In the Traditional Mass community in Rome, Don Vallauri is well-known and rather famous.  In fact, of all the Italian-born priests I know residing in the Diocese of Rome, Don Vallauri has arguably done more than any others in recent years to safeguard and promote the sacraments according to the pre-conciliar Roman Rite.  The official announcement of his passing can be seen here.   

Don Giuseppe Gioacchino Vallauri was born in 1945 in Robilante (Province of Cuneo) in Piedmont, not far from Turin in the north of Italy.  In 1956 at the young age of eleven he joined the Sons of Divine Providence, a religious institute founded in 1893 by Don Luigi Orione.  The congregation is strong in that region, having been founded in Turin.  Don Vallauri felt called to give his life to this order specifically because it was dedicated to the poor - his first love was for the poor.  Today the sons of Don Orione are active in several countries.  As a member of a missionary order Don Vallauri traveled the world, while his final years were spent in Rome as a missionary.  He attended seminary in England and was ordained a priest in Liverpool, England in 1972.  

In the dark years before Summorum Pontificum, when the celebration of the Holy Mass in the Classical rite was a rare sight, Don Vallauri took an active role in promoting it and making it available to the lay faithful in the city of Rome.  He initiated the monthly EF Mass in the Cesi Chapel of the Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the Mass was celebrated every First Saturday of the Month.  For years he celebrated the evening Mass on Saturdays at San Nicola in Carcere and finally at the Church of Sant'Anna al Laterano, where he made the EF available to all (every Sunday at 5:00 pm).  Don Vallauri was a true bridge builder, uniting the clans and always staying positive.  He worked hard at being a good priest and was purposefully on good terms with the SSPX, the ICK and the FSSP, always happy to hear confessions when needed.  

Don Vallauri spoke perfect English and was a great joy to be around.  His knowledge of languages was a big boost to his ministry.  He learned English while living twenty-four years in England.  After ordination he worked first in Ireland and then was a parish priest for eleven years in Hertfordshire before returning to Dublin in 1989.  In Ireland he helped run a home for disadvantaged teens as well as a complex of apartments for the elderly in the Dublin suburb of Ballyfermot.  In 1996 he moved to Africa to help establish the first religious house and seminary for his congregation in Kenya where he lived for three years.  He returned to Rome in 1999, moved to Pompei in 2005 and finally back to Rome in 2008 where he became archivist of his congregation, freeing up his time to pursue his "Latin Mass" ministry in Rome, which included an annual pilgrimage to Rome's beloved Divino Amore shrine.  

Many of us learned the Roman Rite from Don Vallauri years before we met him and I later had the privilege to thank him for this.  He was the priest who celebrated the Mass in the famous "Latin Mass" instructional video known as The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven The Tridentine Mass - How to Say/Pray It (see below).  This immensely popular instructional video was produced in 1991 by Irish journalist Kieron Wood.  A great many of us are eternally indebted for the video, which quickly became a cult classic in its day with an elaborate fanbase of young "trads" that engaged in repeated viewings and secret subculture conversations in seminaries across the land.  The Mass was celebrated at St. Paul's Church on Arran Quay in Dublin's city center.  In 1990, the Archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, had grated permission for the EF to be celebrated at St. Paul's every Sunday and Holy Day.  The VHS video was distributed in the US by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, based in Glenview, Illinois.  The video was a huge success, brilliantly produced to instruct both priests, servers and lay faithful on the rubrics of the Roman Rite.  Thankfully, Don Vallauri was chosen as the celebrant - his Latin pronunciation was impeccable, spoken with a perfect Italian accent.

I myself have many fond memories of time spent with Don Vallauri.  He was known for his unparalleled zeal and contact with the lay faithful.  For this reason Don Vallauri was always in demand to celebrate various rites and sacraments in the EF for Italian families, including weddings, funerals and baptisms in and around Rome.  Once I accompanied him to a wedding he celebrated in in the EF in Albano, near Rome.  The ceremony and reception were unforgettable.    

Another time I visited Turin with him to see the Shroud of Turin at the cathedral, with a stop in Tortona, where he showed us the final resting place of Don Orione, the founder of his congregation.  This was a tremendous experience, to see a totally incorrput saint who died in 1940.  I had attended the canonization of Don Orione in 2004 in the Vatican and the visit to his burial place at the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia was well worth the visit.  

Another time along with a close friend, Chris Wells of Vatican Radio, we visited him at the Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary in Pompei, near Naples.  Don Vallauri was assigned to the shrine for a short while and because he spoke multiple languages his duties included hearing confessions for hours as pilgrims gathered from every corner of the world.  I recall an amusing episode at the end of our visit when he very kindly took us to the roof of the shrine for a better view of the mighty Mt. Vesuvius.  He tried his best to put us at ease, relating the story of the eruption in AD 79 while reminding us not to worry, that the volcano was still "relatively" dormant.  His humor was brilliant, always with an enigmatic smile.  

Thank you, Don Vallauri, for teaching us the Roman Rite.  You were our guiding light in Rome, a living legend who taught many of us the way of our ancestors.  We are proud to call you our spiritual father and we are your sons and daughters, living proof of your fruitful ministry at the altar.  Thank you once again for being courageous and putting the Faith first.  May your memory be eternal.  "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  In Paradisum!  

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