Eugene went to St Peter’s basilica to attend the beatification ceremony of a Capuchin – expressing his admiration for a fellow mission preacher. At the end of the ceremony he saw Pope Leo XII for the first time.
I must go to bed for it is midnight. But I must tell you that I missed the post this morning for I had not written much of this letter before I had to leave for Saint Peter’s where I wished to attend the beatification of the blessed Angelo d’Acri, Capuchin missionary. Here is another of these missionaries beatified; they all have the same method and in ten or twelve days put on a mission for you with all that belongs or goes with it. That gives us courage and hope.
I had been assured that the Pope would come down to pray before the newly Blessed and indeed that is what happened. So I had the consolation of being present for the inaugural ceremony for this saint, to whom I commended myself strongly, placing all of you under his protection, as well as the happiness of seeing and contemplating at leisure the Head of the Church. I cannot describe to you the impression made on my soul by the Vicar of Jesus Christ. I looked at him, it is true, with eyes of a lively faith; so I experienced feelings that were certainly not shared by most of the people close to me who only looked out of curiosity. He prayed with great fervor and I quietly united myself to him.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 18 December 1825, EO VI n 212
In his personal Diary he confided his thoughts:
I was able to leisurely savor the Holy Pontiff who prayed with angelic fervor at his kneeler. I united my prayers to his…
I glanced at the whole audience. I saw many who were looking with curiosity and even with interest; but did not recognize any others who shared the sentiments of profound veneration, mixed with kindly affection, which filled my soul. Such is the result of a faith-filled habit of regarding the Pope.
Roman Diary, 18 December 1825, EO XVII
“The new pope knows that his task is to make the light of Christ shine before men and women of world – not his own light, but that of Christ.” Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI