Not everyone was happy with the effects of the preaching of the Missionaries. Rey narrates this episode during the 1820 mission in Aix:
Now, after this moving scene, there passed another one which showed how the heavens watched over their chosen one. It is about an assassination attempt in which Fr de Mazenod was almost the victim. The story is narrated by Canon Dupuy – one of the first disciples of Fr de Mazenod- who was staying with him in the Mission house. He thus tells the story:
‘Through his preaching Fr de Mazenod had the good fortune of converting a young woman who was a concubine. Having made a strong resolution, she had escaped from the house of her seducer taking with her his child. The man went to fetch her and he used up all means of harassment to attempt to bring her back to him but she was resolute. Then, filled with rage, the man stabbed her and her child. However this did not satisfy his anger. There was another victim who would quench that thirst to sacrifice: it was the saintly apostle whose fiery speech had ignited the object of the man’s passion. During that time, Fr de Mazenod was preaching in the Cathedral. The murderer hastily made his way there while saying aloud that he had just killed two victims, but that he needed a third which he will get at all cost. He stationed himself at the city square near the fountain for it was there that Fr de Mazenod would have to pass through on his return to the Mission house.
Indeed, after coming down the pulpit, he took precisely that direction when he was joined by a director of the major seminary who made him accompany him to the Archbishop’s residence, unaware of the danger which he rescued Fr de Mazenod from in going that way. The assassin was stationed too far and arrived only after the two priests had entered the bishop’s residence. Yet, he placed himself on guard close to the door, hoping to find his victim when the latter would come out.
Fr de Mazenod spent quite a long time at the residence. Then, accompanied by the Sulpician who had brought him, he came out of the door, crossed a garden and entered in the nearby street through a small door in the enclosed wall situated in front of the seminary. From here, he went towards the Mission house, still in the greatest ignorance of what had been hatched for him. Arriving there, he saw someone he knew who approached him all scared saying “how it that you are here and there are loud reports in the city that you have been assassinated!”
During the time that elapsed from his coming out of the Cathedral until that moment, many things had taken place. The rumour of the above-mentioned double crime had spread. This first event and the death threats made against Fr de Mazenod, had thrown the whole city into anxiety and incited the most disturbing assumptions.
The police, having been alerted, actively sought the murderer in all directions. The latter realizing that he had missed his target and that he would be captured at anytime, fled to a secluded place where he hanged himself.’
Rey 1 p.250
“Christ is perfectly harmless so long as he is kept locked up in churches. There is always trouble when you let him out.” G. Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy