Continuing the narrative from Eugene’s diary on his school days in Turin, we read:
In the interval between his first communion and his confirmation, namely, between Holy Thursday and Trinity 1792, Eugene gave fresh proof of the delicacy of his feelings and his strength of character. It is noteworthy on account of his age. The child had carried from birth a cyst in the inside corner of his left eye. His parents, fearful lest this cyst grow and disfigure him, decided to have it removed by a competent surgeon, such as was Doctor Pinchinati, first surgeon to the King. There was no trouble in getting the child’s consent, too reasonable to resist his family’s wishes. The day was fixed, and his mother was due to arrive from Nice the evening before to be present at this painful operation. Eugene wanted to spare her the pain of seeing him suffer. He insistently asked Reverend Father Rector to graciously allow the operation to be brought forward, so that his mother would find it already over when she arrived. The Reverend Father Rector was touched by this delicate thought, and gladly gave his consent.
Everything was got ready in the rooms of Father Rector who wished to be present at the operation. The first surgeon to the King arrives accompanied by his pupils; the child is praised for his courage, he was displaying a resolution that astonished everyone. It was here that God was waiting for him to give him a small humiliation which he drew down on himself perhaps by counting too much on his own strength. When all the instruments had been set out on a table which had been shut up in the doctor’s case, when the child saw the lancet, bistouri, hooked scissors, tongs, lint, etc., he thought they were going to cut off his head, and his courage deserted him; all those instruments of torture had to be put away again, and the surgeon and his pupils left.
Eugene went back to his room in total confusion, and with a movement of fervour he threw himself on his knees and invoked Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom it would seem he had not prayed to beforehand. We have heard him say he addressed himself to the Holy Spirit with a great confidence. This fervent prayer was agreeable to the Lord, for immediately the child rose with fresh courage, and going back into the room of Father Rector he asked him to recall the doctor, resolved that he would undergo the operation, however painful it might be. Father Rector, in wonder at this change, had Mr. Pinchinati recalled, and he immediately got ready to begin the operation. It was very long and painful, frightening even on account of the amount of blood which came from the vein that had to be severed to remove the cyst. The cyst could only be removed by repeatedly draining off the fatty matter which it contained, and cutting it each time with the hooked scissors, which considerably prolonged the operation. The supernatural strength that Eugene had obtained from the Holy Spirit by his prayer, did not show itself only in the resolution to undergo the operation, but in the courage which sustained him throughout: no cry came from him and he uttered not a single complaint. His mother arrived that very evening and was touched, as one can well imagine, by the thoughtfulness of her son who had wanted to spare her the pain of seeing him suffer.
Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI p. 30
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela