Eugene’s first communion, at the College of Nobles in Turin, was concisely noted in his exile Diary:

It seems his masters and in particular Father Scati were also happy with his good sense, for he was admitted to first communion before the age of ten. He had this joy on Holy Thursday in the year 1792.

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI  p. 32

The brevity of this entry does not indicate the importance of the event or of the Eucharist for him, as one of the foundations of his spirituality. Bishop Ricard, who had been a diocesan seminarian in Marseille, recalled:

One Holy Thursday – as I personally recall – we were in the Cathedral of Marseille. The bishop (Eugene de Mazenod) was officiating with the gentle dignity and recollection that made him renowned among all the bishops, his contemporaries. Unexpectedly we saw him cry and, while trying, he could not conceal it. The seminarians who surrounded the bishop’s throne, struck by the emotion of the Bishop, were moved as they looked at him. He noticed this, and turning to one of them, the author of these lines, whose short-sightedness made his staring more obvious:

“Young man,” he said with that simplicity that made him win hearts, “do not be startled like that – today is the anniversary of my first communion.”

Mgr Antoine RICARD, “Monseigneur de Mazenod, évêque de Marseille, fondateur de la Congrégation des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée, p. 12.

Forty seven years after his first communion he praised God for

the great lights and inspirations that God has wanted to communicate to me for a good number of years concerning the admirable sacrament of our altars ─ in reparation for the little fruit that I drew from the extraordinary feelings with which the person of the Divine Savior favored me…

Diary, 17 March 1839, EO XX

In later entries we will have the opportunity to explore this aspect of his spirituality in a deeper way. Today, this text could be an invitation to recall my own first communion as one of the steps in the formation of my personal spirituality.


“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”   James E. Faust

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I suppose that my First Communion had an effect on my interior life, but it is not anything really that I have a memory of save for the white shoes and dress. There has been a very small part of me this morning that has remained here thinking back to those days but I do not know the date of my First Communion although it may be recorded somewhere.

    What I do remember was the sacraments that I received when I came back into the Church. It began with ‘Reconciliation’ on a Saturday evening during a Choice weekend. At the time I did not know the word ‘reconciliation’ and I did not know that it was what I had learned as a child to be ‘confession’. This was my first conscious experience of God, of Jesus and it was one that transformed my being. The following day I was invited to receive the Eucharist at the Mass and the wonder continued. And although those around me would swear and attest to the fact that my feet were on the ground, I felt as if I was floating, barely aware of my feed or the ground that they stood on. I liken it a little bit to what Paul experienced after being touched by Jesus; I saw and heard but was not altogether there for I was present to another.

    I continue to be transformed with that and the other Sacraments, and remembering that evening more than thirty-five years ago I continue to experience immense joy, wonder and gratitude. Although I had been baptized as a baby, still I felt and remember this in a way as my beginning. It was only a year later that I experienced the Cross, Jesus on the Cross, another beginning but one which was somehow deeper and which would indelibly mark me forever as to how I would be, who I was to be. Even as I write this my heart moves and grows within me and threatens to expand through my body, my being and further. I am suffused with tender joy and gratitude, inseparable and both in equal measure.

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