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

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  1. John Mouck says:

    I love that ending quote, Frank. It is hilarious; good choice.

    This post gives me food for thought I have never considered:
    I can see all the blessings our Father has showered on me. Now I am wondering how many calamities (entirely unknown by me) He has saved me from.
    I guess that passage I read the other day is true: ‘It is enough for us to see and negotiate one step at a time. If we could see the entire journey, we would be too frightened to even continue on.’

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Another day of many avenues to discover. I like what you said John. It reminded me of the many times when I was drinking that “little miracles” occurred keeping me safe. Like you I do not know truly how many ways God has protected me – I imagine they are countless. It reminds me a little of the child walking with a parent – running out, discovering, chasing anything of interest and and relishing in the freedom of life – totally unaware of any of the dangers that the parent guides this child around and keeps him safe from.

    As I read these offerings I thought of a couple of things. The woman, her son and the man – a unit and the joy and the sorrow in that image. The joy of the woman, finding God (letting God find her and her son) and the joy for them in their going home to God – and the sorrow and horrible pain of the man, feeling abandoned and left out perhaps, full of rage and without hope. I feel the need/desire to rejoice with God in womand and her child, both freely loved and fulfilled in that love as well as reminding God (like God needs reminding – no that is just me), reminding God to hold the man, envelope him in tender mercy until he too is healed to be free and love.

    Letting God out of the church indeed! Sort of like letting God out of the private safe boxes, things and places that God has long been relegated to, like our hearts, and Sunday church and all the other places that we keep God locked up in. Much safer indeed!

  3. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I keep thinking of that phrase “be careful if you rock the boat….” Jesus rocked the boat. Eugene dared and he rocked the boat – with his whole life he rocked the boat. Even in how he dealt with his beloved Church. He never abandoned his church, but rather he worked within it saying “this is how we must love”. He persevered, remained true. He went about his job, did and said what he had to and allowed God to take care of him.

    Nor did he hide away in it, staying safe as this very accounting shows. And with that thought I want to scream or at least say ‘ah hell’. Have you ever noticed that when you do not want to face something it seems to come at you from every which-way there is? The Church, the Oblates, friends – these are not places to hide away in and stay safe. How do I try to hide away? I think of the ‘excuses’ that I might use – and there are many of them. I think back to Eugene – of course he was a man and so was allowed to do certain things, within the church because of that. And he was educated and so knew the right way to go about things. He was a priest and so he was listened to and so allowed to do and say things that a lay person cannot. Excuses – all excuses. Nowhere left to run.

    I look again at Jesus and how he did it, He did it with love – damn – he gave his life. I look at Eugene – he too gave his life in a very real sense because of his giving it all to God. He did it with love, by loving. Another thought comes – that perhaps I should be looking to another saint to follow, like a nice holy woman, a female saint. Another excuse most likely, or at the least a delaying tactic. At this moment I want to stamp my feet and curse (mildly but nevertheless curse). And even as I write this, know what I would like to say the thought appears that “I have no right” to think as I do let alone to say it or write it. Another excuse. God has brought me to this point and who am I to say no to God. I wonder how David felt as he faced Goliath? I wonder how Mary felt as she faced Joseph and their families? Mine is not so great as theirs and yet to me it is.

    Eugene you walked through your fears, and you persevered. Pray for me that I can be as courageous, that I can stop running and stop hiding behind excuses.

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