Finally Eugene was received by Pope Leo XII, and he described the meeting to Henri Tempier – and through him to all the Oblates in France, who were anxiously awaiting news of this meeting that would affect each one.
You must indeed feel very impatient, my very dear friend, to receive this letter which, to all appearances, should inform you that I have had the happiness of seeing our Holy Father the Pope and should contain, in consequence, the details of this memorable audience. Eh bien! my dear friend, yes! I have seen the Pope, not at a great distance, as the other day at St Peter’s, nor for a few moments, but close enough to touch and for more than a good half hour; that says little, for when I recapitulate all that was said on both sides, I am tempted to believe that it took nearly an hour to cover everything.
It is impossible for me to render you a detailed account of what happened; you will have to be satisfied with the substance…
The Pope receives in his small bedroom. He was seated on a settee, with a desk before him on which he leaned. I made as I entered the first customary genuflection but there was not enough room between the door and the place where he sat to make a second; I found myself promptly at his feet that I did not try to kiss either because when bowing profoundly I did not see them or, too struck by the appearance of the Pontiff, whom my faith showed immediately as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, I became attentive only to the charm and the goodness of his face.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 December 1825, EO VI n 213
In his own personal journal, Eugene gave more personal details;
His Holiness was in his small bedroom; it seemed not very spacious to me. Near the alcove, closed off by drapes of crimson damask, the Pope was seated on a couch, leaning on a desk in front of him. People usually make three genuflections, whereas I could make only one; the Pope graciously motioned me to advance; I knelt at his feet and prostrated myself, but was unable to kiss his feet, since he apparently did not want to move them forward. He immediately told me to get up again; I did not want to; he insisted, but I begged him to allow me to remain kneeling since the posture suited me fine. He seemed to give in reluctantly; his face told me that as well as his words, full of charity and kindness.
Roman Diary, 20 December 1825, EO XVII