WHO WERE THE FIRST MISSIONARIES OF PROVENCE?

 The first activity of the newly-formed Missionary group was to write a request of authorization to the diocesan authorities.

 The undersigned priests:

… -have the honour of requesting from you the authorization to come together at Aix in the old house of the Carmelites which one of them has acquired; and to live there in community under a Rule whose main points they now indicate to you….

(The main points are listed. These will be presented in the blog entries that follow)

Done at Aix, January 25, 1816

Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2

Who were these men who signed the founding letter?

  • Eugene de Mazenod was 33 years old, and was the one whose vision sparked the new missionary adventure.

The first three of his companions had been seminarians in Aix at the time when Eugene was a part-time spiritual director and confessor there from 1812 onwards:

  • Auguste Icard was 25-years old, ordained two years before for the Diocese of Aix, and had been assistant priest in the parish of Lambesc, near Aix.
  • Henri Tempier was 27, and had been a priest for two years, working as assistant priest in Arles.
  • Sébastien Deblieu was 27, and had had three years of priestly ministry, working as assistant in the parish of St. Jean outside the Walls in Aix, and then for a year as parish priest of Peynier. He came to live in the Carmelite convent a few days after the others.
  • Emmanuel Maunier was 46, and was a widower who was ordained a priest for 18 years and worked in Marseille. Although he was a founding member and signed the 25 January document, he was only able to move into the community in March.
  • Pierre Mie was 47, and had been a priest for 18 years, working in various parish situations and also preaching retreats and missions. It appears that he was a part of the Missionaries in their life and activities from the beginning but only definitively went to live in Aix much later.

The older priests, Maunier and Mie, had both experienced being persecuted as priests during the Revolution and, at danger to themselves, had ministered clandestinely to people. Their experiences would have made them very open to Eugene’s understanding of the damage caused to the Church by the Revolution – especially as expressed in the Preface.

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One Response to WHO WERE THE FIRST MISSIONARIES OF PROVENCE?

  1. Paul Howard says:

    Just want to say how much I enjoy the daily read of St Eugene’s early life. I know Associates in Ottawa who were on board even before I discovered it.

    I recall reading Canon Leflon’s biography of Eugene and meeting the Canon many years ago. His volumes were tough slugging, but I imagine it would be an interesting read today with more time, and all the events since, the canonization, the opening of Aix for the prayer and study of Eugene and the spirituality of those early years.

    I know the Oblates in Aix are enriched by the great publicity from the Chapter as we are.

    Paul M Howard, Associate OMI of Toronto

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