Valfré, Sebastian, Bl.

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Italian Oratorian; b. Verduno, March 9, 1629; d. Turin, Jan. 30, 1710. Sebastian, of poor Piedmontese parents, studied in Turin and was ordained Feb. 24, 1652. The University of Turin, recognizing his learning, gave him an honorary doctorate in theology. In 1651 he joined an Oratorian priest working in Turin, and when others came, an Oratory was formed. Valfré was a devoted pastoral priest, preaching and teaching with winning good humor and simplicity. He was provost of the Oratory for many years, and tutor to the young Duke of Savoy, later Vittorio Amedeo II, to whom he dedicated a book, "The Art of Sanctifying War," recalling that only the most urgent reasons could ever justify war and that damage to noncombatants and all cruelty should be avoided. Valfré wrote a treatise on Christian perfection. He ministered to many wretched Waldensian prisoners brought to Turin following Louis XIV's expedition against them (168586). When French troops besieged Turin for four months in 1706, Valfré helped encourage the inhabitants until the Duke relieved the city. Valfré died for punctuality. Hurrying to evening prayer, he arrived overheated, prayed in a cool room, and caught a fatal chill. He was beatified by Gregory XVI, Aug. 31, 1834.

Feast: Jan. 30.

Bibliography: p. capello, Vita del beato Sebastiano Valfré 2 v. (Turin 1872). a. kerr, Life of the Blessed Sebastian Valfré (London 1896). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 1:207208.

[j. c. challenor]