The purpose of Eugene’s journey to Rome was to seek an official Church approbation of the Missionary Oblates. His Society was tiny, and so he had to back up his request by showing the important evangelizing role that it was playing in the local Church in the south of France. For this reason he asked each Bishop of the areas where the Oblates were working to write his comments and recommendations for canonical approval to the Pope.
The biographer, Rey, says that the first one to do so was Fortuné de Mazenod in Marseille. He personally hand-wrote this in September. The others were the bishops of Gap, Digne, Nimes and Aix en Provence. En route to Rome, Eugene stopped in Fréjus to ask the Bishop to add his approval. On his arrival there he wrote:
I waited at the inn until daylight before going to the church where I found the estimable M. Saurin who embraced me with the greatest cordiality. I said holy Mass after him. I then returned to the inn… I attended to my appearance somewhat, that is to say, I shaved and then went on my way to the dwelling of the Bishop who received me with open arms. After the customary exchange of compliments, I explained in two words to the Bishop the purpose of my journey and, without losing any time, I showed him my original copy which I had taken care to carry with me in my cloak. Before opening it, he replied graciously that it would be a pleasure for him to join with the other bishops who had approved our Rules. He then read attentively the approbations of our Lord Bishops. I laid the volume on his desk and we spoke of other matters. After dinner, I noticed that he went up to his study with M. Saurin; I presumed that it was to instruct him to formulate his approbation and I was not mistaken…
This morning, after having said holy Mass, I thought it would be as well to make a little visit to M. Saurin, thinking that I would be in time to share my reflections with him. In fact, I caught him in. He was reading attentively our Constitutions by which he seemed to me to be very edified. The Bishop had handed over to him the manuscript. He was half way through; I believe that he had passed half the night at it and I found him disposed to finish the reading of it. I was delighted at that, for I ask nothing better than to make known the spirit which directs us. M. Saurin proved to me how much the Bishop was willing to enter into our views, since he told me he had recommended that he mention that we had been working, under blessings from God, in his diocese for several years.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 1 November 1825, EO VI n.203
“Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.” Pope Francis