Written in the third person, Eugene’s exile Diary shows the foundation of his lifelong relationship with the Holy Spirit in his spirituality:

In the interval between his first communion and his confirmation, namely, between Holy Thursday and Trinity 1792, Eugene gave fresh proof of the delicacy of his feelings and his strength of character. It is noteworthy on account of his age. The child had carried from birth a cyst in the inside corner of his left eye. His parents, fearful lest this cyst grow and disfigure him, decided to have it removed by a competent surgeon, such as was Doctor Pinchinati, first surgeon to the King. There was no trouble in getting the child’s consent, too reasonable to resist his family’s wishes. The day was fixed, and his mother was due to arrive from Nice the evening before to be present at this painful operation. Eugene wanted to spare her the pain of seeing him suffer. He insistently asked Reverend Father Rector to graciously allow the operation to be brought forward, so that his mother would find it already over when she arrived. The Reverend Father Rector was touched by this delicate thought, and gladly gave his consent.
Everything was got ready in the rooms of Father Rector who wished to be present at the operation. The first surgeon to the King arrives accompanied by his pupils; the child is praised for his courage, he was displaying a resolution that astonished everyone. It was here that God was waiting for him to give him a small humiliation which he drew down on himself perhaps by counting too much on his own strength. When all the instruments had been set out on a table which had been shut up in the doctor’s case, when the child saw the lancet, bistouri, hooked scissors, tongs, lint, etc., he thought they were going to cut off his head, and his courage deserted him; all those instruments of torture had to be put away again, and the surgeon and his pupils left.
Eugene went back to his room in total confusion, and with a movement of fervour he threw himself on his knees and invoked Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom it would seem he had not prayed to beforehand. We have heard him say he addressed himself to the Holy Spirit with a great confidence. This fervent prayer was agreeable to the Lord, for immediately the child rose with fresh courage, and going back into the room of Father Rector he asked him to recall the doctor, resolved that he would undergo the operation, however painful it might be. Father Rector, in wonder at this change, had Mr. Pinchinati recalled, and he immediately got ready to begin the operation. It was very long and painful, frightening even on account of the amount of blood which came from the vein that had to be severed to remove the cyst. The cyst could only be removed by repeatedly draining off the fatty matter which it contained, and cutting it each time with the hooked scissors, which considerably prolonged the operation. The supernatural strength that Eugene had obtained from the Holy Spirit by his prayer, did not show itself only in the resolution to undergo the operation, but in the courage which sustained him throughout: no cry came from him and he uttered not a single complaint. His mother arrived that very evening and was touched, as one can well imagine, by the thoughtfulness of her son who had wanted to spare her the pain of seeing him suffer.

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI p. 30

In his personal life and in his ministry, Eugene would show his heavy reliance on the supernatural strength of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to make him free. Am I aware that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17)?


“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”   A. Schwarzenegger

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This is the 2nd time in less than 24 hours that someone has spoken to me of the freedom that comes with the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here, right now, in this place, the Holy Spirit is.

    In truth it is in looking back that I recognize and am able to speak of the influence of the Holy Spirit on my life, on who I have become or more aptly who I am freed to live and be. The spirit of all life inviting, whispering to my heart, speaking through others. There always. The freedom to receive and live, be, deep joy. I do not have such dramatic stories as Eugene and others – what I do have is millions of whispers of the Holy Spirit which I have been free to breath in and live or not. And when I have been foolish enough to choose the ‘not’ then it has been the Spirit who has granted me the courage and strength to climb out the holes of my life.

    Although I have not always given credit to the Holy Spirit I can freely say that it has been her in my life that has allowed me to become who I am. It is not humiliating or lessening to me to say that none of it has been ‘me on my own’. Rather it shows the immensity of God’s love for me, for each of us.

    I am unable to give image to the Holy Spirit for when I try it is the image(s) of Jesus that I see and it is the embrace of the Father that I feel. And as so often happens that when I begin to reflect and ponder the Holy Spirit in my life, I find the Trinity. Another moment, an infinitesimal point in time that will feed my thoughts and being of this day.

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