Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gregory Hesse Contra Mundum

Amid of the impending "canonization" of Giovanni Battista Montini it might be time to revisit, in vignette form, the life of one of his more interesting modern critics, Gregory Hesse.

The traditionalist world seems interested in Don Gregorio, whose only previous post on this website is the most viewed in the blog's six year history by far. Hesse worked at the Mercedes-Benz factory until taking an interest in the Church, becoming a priest at the hands of Archbishop Sabattini in Saint Peter's Basilica. He served Cardinal Stickler as his private secretary for a few years, celebrating the 5PM Latin Novus Ordo in Saint Peter's until he and Stickler were forced into retirement, the cardinal because of his age and Hesse because of his orthodoxy. In retirement he ran a "ratline" for traditional seminarians to get ordained through the canonically normal methods and he even had a friendship with Fr. Gilles Wach of the Institute of Christ the King, the erection of which he helped facilitate. The erosion of the papacy under John Paul II and further historical research only served to radicalize his opinions (or clarify, depending on one's perspective) and aligned his views greatly with those of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, which he championed, but never joined.

Perhaps most interesting about Hesse is that he was an interesting man, like Quintin Montgomery-Wright he was a welcomed and vivacious break from the chary, dull world of '90s traditionalists who spout off canons from the Council of Trent without having read the full documents of the sessions. According to Fr. Chadwick, Hesse loved to hum the theme to the Munsters as he went about life and had a strong fascination with steam locomotives, imitating the noises to Fr. Anthony's surprise. Due to a heart condition he consumed a great amount of red wine, which probably caused complications to his diabetes. Above all, his opinions, while not always original, were always informed, well cited, and easily presented to the faithful for consideration; part of the resurgence in interest in Don Gregorio no doubt comes from the availability of his very accessible and understandable talks on YouTube.

Rather than prattle on with more unoriginal information I will instead present these [relatively] new images and quotes borrowed from this website dedicated to Don Gregorio's memory. Not knowing a word of German I blame Google Translate for all misquotations.

Colonel Gregory Hesse, Union Army
Now he drives the British out of Lexington
Inside Hesse's apartment, presumably in Austria
Ordination to the priesthood in Saint Peter's Basilica, 1981. Note the altar at the Throne was still intact.
Hesse's ordaining bishop, Cardinal Sabattini, eventually became Archpriest of the Basilica.

Don Gregorio's house chapel. Fr. Hesse was strictly old rite, not 1962.
The trains....
At work in Rome with a primitive computer in 1988

"I can assure you that I myself experience time and again how uncomfortable in the human sense how uncomfortable the observance of the Ten Commandments and the sacramental practice are. And just this inconvenience - where you have to write in the so-called civilized countries: "In a word: no sex" - is what drives people into the hands of these secret societies."

"The most common word in the [Second Vatican] Council is the word "but". "

"I read Mein Kampf , I also read the Koran and the Second Vatican Council. This is common to all three books: A deep truth, then complete nonsense, then a deep untruth, then again complete nonsense and then again a deep truth - really leaps and bounds. I therefore dare to suppose that both the Koran, Mein Kampf , and Vatican II have the same author."

"A council convened to condemn nothing and define nothing, and of which not a single decree in the nineteenth century had the episcopal permission to publish, but most of it had landed on the list of banned books, and so on is not a council! This is Pistoia No. 2, the second robber's synod. Nothing else. And in the future, when we again have a Catholic as pope, they will be scrapped, and then we will be rid of all that junk and will not have to spend the evening here, instead of bowling. - - So I do not go bowling, I go to the model railway club!"

"The Peter brothers and the Institute of the Christ King have to tell the believers in the pulpit that they have nothing against the New Rite and that they have nothing against the Second Vatican Council. That's exactly what two thousand years ago was incense sprinkling for the emperor."

"The Protestant used to go to Vienna on vacation and burst into St. Stephen's Cathedral "accidentally" on Sunday at ten o'clock in the Pontifical High Mass of the Cardinal, stops, looks at this, sounds like that, is shaken to the depths, kneel down and say: "That's the true religion, there's God. "- If he gets into St. Stephen's Cathedral today at ten o'clock, he gets gastritis."

"The same people who deny original sin also deny the Immaculate Conception, which means that they are actually very behind in logic."

"The anti-extremists, the Greens, are at the forefront of banning legitimate amusements: smoking is forbidden, shooting is forbidden - everything is forbidden, which is fair and right."

"There is one person Cardinal Stickler is constantly lying to - the one he sees that when shaving."

"We are experiencing the spread of the errors of Russia: The errors of Russia are on the third floor of the apostolic palace."

"Until 1870, the Papal State was a perfectly sovereign secular state with jurisdiction over life and death. Even under Pius IX death sentences were still executed in the Vatican. It is a deplorable fact that this no longer happens today, I know many candidates there."

"Hydrogen peroxide burns instantly on contact with organic matter. The Pope can not change that. He can not publish a decree that says: The priests drink only hydrogen peroxide instead of water. That would lead to a reasonable cleansing in the clergy, but he can not do that."

"The devil tries to make it clear to man that there is more to him than to God. This, of course, happens through what appeals to people: money, power, knowledge, boredom, sex and similar fun things, all of which are very entertaining."

"I like to shoot black powder, which is dangerous too. Only it is not half as dangerous as to deal with apparitions and wonders. Because if I make a mistake with black powder, then I made the first and last mistake and killed my body. But the hobby of apparitions and wonders can kill the soul."

"The 21st Century starts at 0 o'clock, New Year's Eve, when the Pummerin beats on St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, the Danube Waltz sounds on ORF and the 1st of January 2001 begins ... - and I fire a cannon on my balcony."

"I will not stop the confessor from telling him about my eating habits. At the most I can tell him - when light is in the confessional, he sees it immediately - that I am eating too much."

Fr. Hesse's kitchen, with copper sauce pans and carbon steel French skillets


  1. Replies
    1. I Have been laughing at such Wonderful Pictures now. How I wish there are many Fr Gregory Hesse's in the World of Bergoglios,Sanborns and Fellays.

  2. I was still sacristan at St Augustine's Lausanne, now FSSP, and student at Fribourg. He came to spend Holy Week 1990 and celebrate the liturgy. I found him quite excessive in the hardcore traditionalist and right-wing political things he said on many topics, and extremely eccentric (that's coming from a quirky fellow that I am!). He was an excellent cook, and really went overboard with the Vienna trams and steam locomotives - oof! oof! oof! choo! choo! I suppose I'm no different with my sailing boats - each to his own thing. I was sorry to know that he had died so young, so all we can do is pray for him. Yes, he was a character in a different way from Fr Montgomery, Fr Pecha, etc.