Eugene had received the honor of being made a knight of the religious and military Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus The Oblate historian, Rey, who knew Eugene well, introduces this letter by saying: “it shows us the point of view that he uses to judge this honorific recognition, whose religious spirit allowed no illusions as to its intrinsic value: we note how these words will apply to every other honor which the Founder of the Oblates was to receive.”
I really think you make fun of me in your manner of remarking about my knighthood. But I see some hope of it being useful to the Society. What pleases me, you see, is that the King indicates precisely the reason why I have done good to his subjects, that is, by missions.
He could have stated others which would not have been of any use to me or at least which I could not have called upon in the event of some future plans we might have.
Letter to Marius Suzanne, 7 March 1827, EO VII n 264
Rey continues: “Everything is connected with the salvation of souls by his beloved religious family: an honor awarded because of the zeal that could open up new regions to evangelize – that is enough reason to give value that nothing else can remove.” Rey I p. 425
Eugene accepted this honor only because of its usefulness. It recognized the value of the Oblate missionary work, and, secondly, he hoped that it would open up a new missionary establishment in the Kingdom of Sardignia. Many official portraits of Eugene as Bishop show him wearing this decoration.
“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” Calvin Coolidge