From the time that Eugene was 9 he had been in exile outside of revolutionary France. Most of the ensuing eleven years had been spent with his father – seven of them without his mother who had left them to go back to France. When Eugene returned to France at the age of 20, one of his main preoccupations was to try to bring his father back and to reunite his family. Fifteen years later he succeeded in bringing his father back to France – but never to re-unite the broken family.
It is thus easy to understand Eugene’s suffering at the passing of this important figure in his life.
What a fine end to his life! But what martyrdom for the poor son whom God called to be with him to exhort him to face death! Such suffering is unspeakable and it took nothing less than the sight of so many virtues, and confidence in the reward and the glory which would follow immediately after this painful and agonizing separation to be able to bear it.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 20 October 1820, O.W. VI n. 54
Rey fills in the picture:
Especially at the moment when his father died in his arms, he could not separate himself from the lifeless body and for several hours he held and kissed it while sobbing…
Fr. de Mazenod, who had administered to his father, presided at his funeral and completed this moving function with a noble and dignified firmness.
Rey I p 256 – 257
“Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” Anonymous