Eugene’s Diary narrates the events that changed his life when he was 20 years old:

Eugene’s relatives in France were continually urging his father to reach a decision to let him return to his native land. The country was in a state of tranquility since Bonaparte had seized power. His mother, and specially his grandmother, feared the coming of death before they could embrace this child they loved so tenderly. Their dread was that in case of death their inheritance to him would be disputed. In short, they produced so many good reasons that his father made up his mind to let him leave.
It was on October 11, 1802, that Eugene embarked on the vessel that was to bring him to France. There is no need to recount the distress involved in that separation; Eugene’s father, uncles; his two faithful friends, the sons of the Duke of Cannizzaro; their tutor, Mr. de Galembert, and the maid Nanon whom he would never see again, all mingled their tears with his which flowed bitterly. … Finally, after fourteen days at sea, they entered the port of Marseilles. And so ended Eugene’s exile

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”   Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The eleven years of exile formed a crucible out of which a deep and lasting spirituality would be formed. It would take another 5 years of life experiences to begin to become visible. In his exile he had known defeat, suffering, struggle, loss and immersion into a life of aristocratic self-centered luxury. It would be the affectionate embrace of Jesus the Savior who would help him to find his way out of those depths – and make him into the beautiful person he became.


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember the first time I really heard the story of Eugene’s first exile – I wanted to ‘measure’, see how it compared to my life. I looked on the surface and told myself that I had never been exiled from my country because of the circumstances of my birth, my heritage. I wondered idly if this is what was necessary to become a saint. So I sort of moved past that part of Eugene’s life emotionally and physically and told myself I needed to get to the ‘good stuff’. Sort of like skipping the beginning of a book and starting mid-way where the action was or even to the end for the ‘feel good’ part. Sort of like skipping the crucifixion and going right to the resurrection.

    This morning I have looked at all of the ‘letting go’ that Eugene had to do in his life. I was struck by how the ‘ongoing paschal mystery’ was very much in play in his life. The very title “and so ended Eugene’s exile…’ Another type of letting go was starting to take place. What a hook! You can’t help but want to look deeper and find out how the next chapter is going to play out. I have to laugh at myself for I can’t skip to the end here. I need to remain where I am, sit in it. Personally for me right now it is not a bad place, but rather a place of not knowing what will come next, will this mean more changes for me in my life? Will I have to let go of something?

    Frank’s last paragraph describes so perfectly Eugene’s journey. Without measuring it also describes ours, it gives us a frame to look within and discover what has been our exile and how have we moved past that. We get to look at our own experiences of the tender embrace in which Jesus holds us. Awe and wonder and immense gratitude.

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