OUR FOUNDING CHARISM TODAY: THE JOY, LOVE, AND RESPECT OF THE PROVENCAL FOR THE POPE

Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles.

CC&RR, Constitution 6

In February 1814, the Pope was released from his imprisonment. Napoleon had expressly forbidden that the Pope pass through the city of Aix because he did not wish him to receive any popular acclamation. Nevertheless the people of Aix flocked to see him to express their solidarity with his suffering and their joy at his release. It was a dangerous gesture, in time of persecution, and hence Eugene gave himself a different identity in the letter and passed himself off as a woman.

The narrative is quite long, but expresses the excitement of the first time that Eugene had any contact with the Pope:

I am feeling well, apart from a sore on my heel, which I developed while escorting the carriage of the Holy Father. I was holding on to the door which, as you know, is very close to the wheel; but, that’s only a minor thing. I was only too happy to be able to hold on to that spot for such a long time, in spite of the inconvenience.
On Monday, the 7th, at 8 o’clock in the morning, we were alerted that the Holy Father would arrive at noon. The rumor spread like wildfire and immediately all shops closed down. In spite of the wind which was acting like an enraged schismatic that day, everyone ran out to meet him. Not only did big fat women like ourselves brave the wind; even the youngest and frailest little misses ran pell-mell with the rest of the population out beyond the city limits where the Holy Father was expected to pass.
Those who had given the orders that he was not to make any stops or even pass through any city if it were possible to avoid it, evidently failed to realize that the inhabitants knew how to get out of the city. The fact remains that only the dying remained behind.
As soon as the Holy Father appeared, a great shout went up from all sides: “Long live the Pope; Long live the Saintly Pope!” They took hold of the bridle, stopped the carriage and then practically carried both the carriage and the horses. It was an immense crowd and yet it wasn’t an unruly one. The joy, love, and respect expressed with all the warmth typical of Southern temperaments were so clearly portrayed on all faces that the Holy Father wept as he kept watching them, and blessing them.
I cut through the crowd until I reached the door of the carriage and I remained there until the horses were changed at a station outside the city. My old crony, the one you met at Grenoble, was with me. She lost her shoe and both of us lost our bonnets in the shuffle. We didn’t get them back until after we returned home. What a picture that carriage made, bearing the most precious person in the world and moving along through fifteen or twenty thousand people who kept shouting words of affection that would have touched the heart of any good father. It was positively thrilling.

Letter to Madame Ginod, 10 February 1814 (Paris, Arch, de la Sainte-Enfance). Forbin-Janson papers. This Mme. Ginod was evidently a fictitious addressee, used as a cover up for his friend, Forbin-Janson.

Eugene’s “joy, love, and respect” for the welfare of the Pope was a sentiment that he communicated to his Oblate family, and wanted us to share.

FOUNDING VISION

“Have the courage to go against the tide of current values that do not conform to the path of Jesus.”   Pope Francis

 

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One Response to OUR FOUNDING CHARISM TODAY: THE JOY, LOVE, AND RESPECT OF THE PROVENCAL FOR THE POPE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember when the Pope came to Ottawa in 1984. I attended the large outdoor Mass that he presided at in an open ‘green’ area of the city near to where I lived. The day was dark and it had rained before Mass so many of us put down green garbage bags to sit on throughout the Mass. I do not have a lot of memories of that. What I do remember quite clearly though was what happened after Mass. A friend and I stayed behind to wait for the Pope to pass by in his car as he was leaving. We were rewarded well when later his car indeed approached and slowed. There were no crowds but only a few journalists and a few people like me and my friend to wave goodbye. On the edge of a small roadway – close enough to touch his car and see him quite clearly. I remember he was smiling and that he blessed us. And then he and his entourage were gone. To this day I do not know why I stayed behind to wait and wave him off – but I was rewarded greatly.

    I did not feel giddy, although I was happy that we had not waited in vain. But there was something else. I think that day I was blessed with a great well of peace which took root deep within me. I was grateful for the chance to be so close to this man that I recognized as being very holy and who was most obviously (at least to me) very much a gift from God. His blessing meant a lot to me even if at the time I did not stop to think or reflect on it. I was happy that I had listened to the urgings of the Spirit.

    Sadly my account is lacking in the obvious enthusiasm that Eugene seemed to experience. I had gone to see the Pope really at the urgings of my friend, one of those ‘only-once-in-your-lifetime’ events; I was quiet throughout so as to mask my lack of enthusiasm and yet still I was grateful that I had been there. Oddly it was not my friend but I who reached out to touch the side of the Pope’s car as he passed by.
    “Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles.” I repeat with a small secret joy this part of Constitution 6 – not having to skip over certain words simply to repeat them in their entirety. I am filled with gratitude to God for such a gift this is to me this morning. What a wonderful way to start my day and my week.

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