Eugene’s friend, Father Forbin Janson was visiting Rome, and is here asked to find the tomb of Don Bartolo Zinelli, who had been Eugene’s mentor in Venice. What Don Bartolo had been in Eugene’s life as an adolescent, Eugene himself now aimed at being in the lives of the young people of Aix.

Find out if there is still to be found in Rome any Father of the Faith. Speak to him, if you find one, about my dear and holy master, Father Bartolo Zinelli, who died in Rome in the odour of sanctity in 1802. Get someone to bring you to his tomb to say a prayer in my name, with all the fervour you can muster, to obtain from God by his intercession all the graces that he so often sought for me, when he was on earth.
Although I have a good number of his letters, full of the spirit of God which was constantly at work in him, and have several things in my possession that come from him, if you could get some of his relics for me, you would be bestowing on me an inestimable gift. It is to this holy priest I owe the little shoot of piety I cultivate so badly. But for him I would never have known God.

To Forbin Janson, June 1814 in O.W. XV n. 125:

Interestingly, Eugene was to spend many months in 1825-1826 in Rome at the religious house of San Silvestro in Quirinale, in whose chapel Don Bartolo was buried. In 1832 Eugene was ordained Bishop of Icosia in this very church in the presence of the mortal remains of one of the most significant persons in his life.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Without him I would never have known God” – talk about a ‘hook’ that grabs you! I have to admit – it was this title that grabbed me, I wanted to read about Eugene’s memories of Don Bartolo, one of the men who played such a signicant role in Eugene’s life. As I read Eugene’s letter I can only imagine the fond memories that must have passed before him. I can only imagine the love that must have welled up from within him, the gratitude, the bitter sweetness of it all.

    I wonder if we don’t all have a Don Bartolo in our lives, someone who was there to teach and guide us. My mind immediately brings up the face of Kay Cronin, HOMI. It was long before my conversion experience, long before I sobered up and got off of the streets, I came to know her when I was in my late teens. She managed somehow to get me involved in ‘her’ missions in Peru and the beginnings of Development and Peace (at at time when I had long given up on and left the church, and God). I can picture her face now, clear eyes that danced and her wonderful huge smile. She was always a safety net for me, someone who said she loved me and she did – I can remember how she would hug me. She encouraged me in my writing and would tell me to follow my dreams. She called a spade a spade and was honest with me always. But always I knew that she loved me and that meant so much back then, and still now. She died more than 35 years ago, but over the years I would “talk” with her, mostly about “her” Oblates. I feel she would be so proud of me now, (for that was not the case in the beginning), as she would be of her beloved Oblates.

    I am sure that Kay touched many people over the course of her life, I was but one. I thank God for putting her into my life. A little bit of seeing the ‘face of God’, that was my experience with Kay, and I dare to say Eugene’s with Don Bartolo.

    It is with gratitude that I start today, this fourth day of Christmas, with a gift that was begun so many years ago and continues today.

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