Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXVIII

A Good Friend Dies


1 November 1978


A sermon preached by Father L. M. Barrielle,
Published in The Angelus, November 1979.


On All Saints' Day, Wednesday, 1 November 1978, the soul of M. Alphonse Pedroni left us for the land of the blest – the meeting place of all who on earth have believed in Christ and led their lives in accord with His divine teaching.

Every day Holy Church invites us to honor certain men who, during their lives, have been examples of heroic sanctity. To encourage us here below and to give us an example, the Church inscribes them in the catalogue of saints. But many saints – even those heroic in all Christian virtues – are not known on earth. The Church includes them in the wonderful Feast of All Saints.

In this numberless procession it is pleasing to imagine this Saint - M. Alphonse Pedroni – who will probably pass unknown to many, but will surely find a high place among the souls who have done much to establish the reign of the Immaculate Heart, which will triumph in the end. On Saturday, 4 November 1978, the first Saturday of the month, so dear to his heart, in the crowded chapel of Econe, his mortal remains received funeral honors according to the traditional rite which was his last wish.

Mgr. Lefebvre insisted upon singing a Pontifical Requiem Mass to show the gratitude of the Society of St. Pius X and the Seminary of Ecône towards this humble Christian, an industrialist from Saxon, who was at the very root of our International Seminary at Ecône.

It was in 1968 that the Vice President of the little commune of Saxon (we should say in France, the deputy mayor) a former Retreatant of the work founded by Father Vallet at Chabeuil, heard one evening a group of men engaged in a pretty sharp discussion in a cafe: the old house of the Canons of St. Bernard – over 600 years old – was apparently for sale; they were discussing buying it and turning it into a casino. Of course, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Fields would be demolished. The business could not but be a success, etc., etc. The tall, silent Alphonse, sitting at the next table, took no part in the conversation but he heard everything.1

He was thunderstruck by the thought that this religious house, sanctified by so many holy religious, was to become a house of sin! …the Chapel of Our Lady of the Fields, dear to every native of the Valais, was to be demolished to make way for a center of iniquity. No! Never while he lived could a Retreatant tolerate such a sacrilege! Back home, he telephoned his brother, Marcel, with whom he had made his first retreat at Chabeuil: "We cannot allow this profanation!”

From the other end of the wire came the response: “What sort of business are you rushing into? I've heard that the Canons need the money and will really call the tune. Keep out of it! The price would be prohibitive!"

"We have no right to stand for this! The problem is not insoluble. Let them demolish that Chapel where the holy Canon Gabioud said his First Mass in our presence? Unity is strength. We are a group of determined Retreatants. All it needs is for a few determined Retreatants to unite!"

Accustomed to business affairs, Alphonse did not shrink from the difficulties. Without trouble he found a few friends able to put up the money: a notary in Fully, an insurance agent in Sion, a friend in Orsiéres who was to become a councillor of the Canton, some others in Martigny, the young curé of Riddes, the two Pedronis. They would use the land for growing apricots, vines, etc.

Alphonse boldly telephoned the Provost of St. Bernard: "We are willing to buy at the highest price to be offered  by any bidder. Give us priority. We cannot allow such a profanation."

The word is given, the deed of purchase is signed (note the date) on 31 May, 1968 – the Feast of Mary, Queen of the World.

The deal is complete, the House is bought. How to use it? There is a God! Alphonse believed in Providence. A Carmelite community comes to see it…no good, there are no walls. The Sisters of Chabeuil come, too. Hummm! At this, the beloved and revered Abbé Bonvin, Curé of Fully, who has in his parish the strongest parochial section of Retreatants in the Valais, in Switzerland, in the world – invites one of his old friends from the French Seminary in Rome to come and preach a week’s mission to the men. It is His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, former Archbishop of Dakar, former Apostolic Delegate for all French-speaking Africa, former Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, former Archbishop of Tulle, etc. In the course of the mission, Monseigneur asked his friend:

"I suppose you couldn't find me a house large enough for a seminary? Several seminarians, ill-pleased with the distortions of the Faith which are served up to them in various seminaries, have sought me out. I have agreed; I have bought a small villa at Fribourg but it is too small…"

The curé was only too happy to be able to reply, "I have exactly what you want, and it will be given to you for nothing, and ready at once. The notary of my parish, a former Retreatant, is the secretary of a society which has just what you want."

A dinner was organized in Monseigneur's honor. This group of Retreatants had refused to change their Missals. The conversation was lively. Everyone had a firm faith which rejected the intrusions of the modernist Mafia who want to force the church into Modernist Protestism. However, one of the gentleman had not yet said a word: it was the very one who had begun the whole business.

Then Monseigneur invited him gently thus: “We should very much like to know what M. Pedroni thinks of all this.”

The silent one answered, concise and prophetic: “Monseigneur, if you establish your seminary at Ecône, before long Ecône will be known throughout the world!”

“There’s a prophecy!” – which was followed by general laughter.

And at the committee meeting every year on the arrival of Alphonse, his colleagues would tease him: "Here's the prophet!" Because, in truth, people were soon speaking of Ecône in every country of the world.

Is it necessary to say that, on that autumn morning in 1978 when the entire seminary of Ecône sang the Requiem Mass for a friend universally regretted, the seminarians surrounded the coffin of Alphonse Pedroni represented not only most of the countries of Europe, but Canada, the Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and even the very antipodes of Switzerland: Australia and New Zealand.

Yes, after ten years, not only was Econe known throughout the world but the whole world was there around him. And Mgr. 'Lefebvre, during that Requiem Mass could not subdue his emotion.

On this first Saturday of November, sacred to the Immaculate Heart of Mary , dear Alphonse, that Queen to whom you had consecrated your whole life, whom you loved so much and so greatly caused to be loved by others, came herself to fetch you.

All we who knew you intimately believes, as Monseigneur said in his address: “On high you will continue your work of defending the Roman Catholic Faith, defending the True Mass, the priesthood and Ecône, which reminds the whole of the anti-modernist oath of Saint Pius X.”


1. See Vol. I, pp. 13-14.


Chapter 27

Courtesy of the Angelus Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109

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