Dr. Vello Salo was a Catholic priest, theology professor, author, historian, WWII veteran, multilingual translator, publisher, and Estonian patriot.
He died on the morning of April 21, 2019, at the age of 93 in Tallinn, Estonia.
Father Vello Salo (born Endel Vaher) was born in Estonia on November 5, 1925. He joined the Finnish Army in 1943 during World War II, while still an upper secondary school student.
Upon his return to Estonia as a so-called “Finnish boy” in 1944, he attempted to procure weapons for the resistance movement against the Soviet Army, but was imprisoned and taken to Germany.
Following battles in what was then Silesia, he reached Italy where he adopted the name Vello Salo.
Time in Rome
Fr. Salo worked for Vatican Radio from 1948 until 1953, while studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He earned his Licentiate in Philosophy in 1951. Later, in 1962 until 1964, he studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Biblicum) in Rome. He also translated well-known Estonian poetry into Italian.
During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Fr. Salo studied and worked in several countries, remaining actively involved in preserving Estonian culture and working as a publisher, translator, and journalist. He returned to Estonia in 1993.
From 1993-1994, Fr. Vello Salo worked as guest lecturer at the School of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Tartu, delivering lectures on the Old Testament.
Since 2001, he served as a the chaplain at St. Bridget's Convent in Tallinn.
In September 25, 2018, he met Pope Francis in Tallinn during his Apostolic Visit to Estonia.