So one fine morning I made my decision. It was the 20th, vigil of Saint Thomas, and having obtained the loan of the carriage of Mgr. the Dean, I arrived in full dress at the Vatican. The first person I met at the papal apartments was a certain prelate, one of those they call here “de mantellone”, that is to say, of inferior rank but always near the Pope to serve him as private secretary. This good man, a little awkward at his trade, advised me to retrace my steps because it would not be possible to see His Holiness that day; that I could not have chosen a worse day, that it was the last of the audiences of the year, that the Cardinals were coming in crowds, the Ministers and goodness-knows-who-else, hence I must put off my visit until the first days of the new year.
I soothed him a little and to be accommodating, he told me to come back the second day of Christmastide, then on the Eve, and finally the day following that at which we were. That did not suit me at all. I have since concluded that, thinking I wished to get in to see the Pope by his intermediary, he saw no way of introducing me that day. He was wrong, I had not the slightest wish to enter by the back door.
The moment this good man disappeared, Mgr. Barberini arrived; I went up to him and explained my position, reproaching him somewhat for having grieved me by his forgetfulness. A little embarrassed by my gentle reprimand, of which he acknowledged the justice, he prayed me to enter the salon and, in my quality of prelate [ed. he was Vicar General of Marseille], I went without ado into the apartment which is next to the study of the Pope, where Cardinals, Bishops and other Prelates, as well as Ministers, wait their turn to enter the presence of the Holy Father.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 December 1825, EO VI n 213

In his personal diary, Eugene was harsher in his judgment of Mgr Barberini who had promised to arrange the appointment for him, but had forgotten:

however Monsignor Chamberlain did not take the trouble to let me know, as he had agreed with Monsignor d’Isoard. When I saw this good master, Monsignor Barberini, I was not surprised at his carelessness; he is as useless as one can imagine; which does not stop him from being a good priest. I told him politely that, seeing he had forgotten me and not being able to defer any longer my appearance before His Holiness without incurring some reproach, I had come without any notice to beg the Monsignor to kindly alert the Holy Father, as soon as the ministers had left, that I was in his antechamber.

Roman Diary, 20 December 1825, EO XVII


“The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”     Pope Francis I

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There is a richness here today that has led me down several paths away from myself and then back to me. As I read of Eugene’s experience with the papal secretary it was easy for me to focus on ‘others’, particularly the Church. Then I moved ‘closer to home’ as I thought, of a friend whose behavior right now I am struggling with and in looking closer recognized myself – always humbling to say the least. We seem to be adept as humans in becoming either little bureaucrats or big ones, in setting up little fences with gates and lists of rules who can enter where and when and even how. Setting up rules which at first look harmless enough and which certainly make sense. We find ourselves building into them a way for us to become keepers of the fences and gates and there is a little ‘false power’ in being able to say who will get through which gate and when, all of course in the name of love and service. We do it with our Church, our parish, community, job and even family. It seems to be the ‘nature of the beast’.

    I have to look very closely at myself here. I do many good things, and I do some of them really well, that is not negated. But I recognize that every once-in-a-while I need to be reminded to look at how I am doing, to remember why I am doing what I do, what is the motive behind it all – is it to love, to serve God – or is it to serve myself and to make myself look good, or feel good or important. And then in finding my humanness do I walk away or do I continue on but with a change of heart and being.

    The people of God want not only pastors, but friends and loved ones who are more interested in giving themselves to others in love than building little kingdoms. We are all called to be pastors to each other, to be shepherds of and with one another. Perhaps if I spend more time doing that I will not worry about what I look like or if another is deemed to be better or smarter or more important than I.

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