Catholic Lay Leader and Una Voce Founding President, Dr. Eric de Saventhem: R.I.P.

Una Voce America, together with the Federatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV), mourns the loss of founding president, Dr. Eric de Saventhem, who died on April 29th, 2005.

The first initiative to preserve the Latin heritage of the Catholic Church came in 1964, when Dr. Borghild Krane, an eminent psychologist in Oslo, sent out an appeal to concerned Catholics to group together in defense of the Church’s liturgical heritage. As a result of that appeal, a number of national associations came into being in 1964/65, starting with a group called Una Voce, originally organized in France.

Realizing the need for coordinating their efforts, delegates from six European associations met in Rome in early 1965 and agreed to create an appropriate supra-national structure. This was the beginning of the FIUV. It was formally erected in Zurich on January 8th, 1967, when delegates from by then 20 associations approved the draft statutes and elected the first Council. At that meeting Dr Eric de Saventhem was unanimously elected as President. He was re-elected, again unanimously, at every subsequent General Assembly and would still be President today but for his decision to step down prematurely for personal reasons in January 1995.

“He was a great scholar and gentlemen, yet humble,” remembers Fred Haehnel, Director of Una Voce America, “He was truly a giant. Una Voce would have never existed without him.”

During his tenure as FIUV president, Dr. Saventhem had the opportunity to meet with Pope John Paul II in a one-on-one meeting, in which they discussed the state of the traditional Latin Mass in the Catholic Church, as well as other issues of importance to both Una Voce and the Holy Father. In 2003, Dr. Saventhem (retired from the presidency) had a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) in Rome, together with other Una Voce officials, including past president Michael Davies and current president Ralf Siebenbürger. During this audience, the Holy Father received their thanks for the consistent support he has given to those attached to the 1962 Missal, and to discuss a number of issues relating to the apostolate of the Federation. Pope Bendict XVI has celebrated the traditional Latin Mass, according to the 1962 missal, on numerous occasions and has publicly praised the work of FIUV.

FIUV President Ralf Siebenbürger comments: “St Simeon was allowed to sing: ‘Nunc dimittis servum tuum secundum verbum tuum in pace.’ We may presume that our longtime President was dignified to receive now his merits from God’s hands. His memory will last forever, and the Lord will let shine His face over him.”

Dr. Eric de Saventhem: Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei! Requiescat in pace!

Posted 5 May 2005