Gerry Lewin/Catholic Sentinel
Fr. Robert Palladino works in his home near Sandy in 2011.
Gerry Lewin/Catholic Sentinel
Fr. Robert Palladino works in his home near Sandy in 2011.
An Oregon priest who became an apostle of calligraphy, even teaching the ancient art to Steve Jobs at Reed College, has died at age 83.

Father Robert Palladino, a longtime heart patient, died Feb. 26, doing his work even in later years. His pieces hang framed in the dens and living rooms of many Oregon Catholics. The priest melded Latin, English and Hebrew letters in ways meant to show the vitality and universality of scriptures.   

“I do things that inspire me in the hope that they may inspire someone else,” the priest told the Catholic Sentinel in 2011.

The funeral for Father Palladino will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, March 11 at St. Mary Cathedral in Portland with reception to follow. Archbishop Sample will be the celebrant and Msgr. Chuck Lienert will give the homily.

He was also a parish priest and often traveled to Portland to say Masses in Latin. He was a former Trappist monk, a widower, a parent and a lover of Gregorian chant.

He grew up in Albuquerque and was an altar server from the fourth grade on. He joined the Trappist in New Mexico at age 17 and moved with them to Oregon in 1955. The young monk learned calligraphy and Gregorian chant from his Trappist mentors. He was ordained in 1958.

After Latin chant was replaced, Father Palladino thought the scripture texts were not being expressed as well as they ought. Other parts of Trappist life were changing.

In 1968, he left the Trappists, married a musician and began a family. He began teaching calligraphy and ancient scripts at Reed. He and his wife bought a farm near Sandy and raised sheep.

His wife, Catherine, died in 1987. After years of mourning, he heard of a need for priests and was admitted to the Archdiocese of Portland presbyterate and served for a decade at St. John Church in Welches and St. Aloysius in Estacada.

Jean Germano, an Oregon Catholic artist, took a class from Father Palladino 25 years ago and remained a friend.  

“He comes from a place that’s very centered,” Germano told the Sentinel in 2011. “I am so impressed with how he knows himself and is at peace with himself.”

Those who got letters from Father Palladino know he used stunning Italics in everyday communications.