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. Eugene was one of them.

When his dreams of military supremacy failed, Napoleon was obliged to free the Pope. The Pope left Fontainebleau on January 23, 1814 and, in stages, made his way back to Rome. On February 7, he passed through Aix. at midday. The people of Aix went out in their thousands to greet him. His vehicle had quite some difficulty making its way through the crowd. On their knees, the crowd shouted: “Long live the Pope,” and asked for his apostolic blessing. Abbé de Mazenod went even further. He gained a position at the carriage door and lost his hat. His foot slipped off the footrest and, as a result, abrasion from the carriage wheel inflicted a scratch on his heel. The coach stopped at the Orbitelle gate without entering the city. After a change of horses, the coach left for Tourves, near Toulon. That is where the Pope was to pass the night. (Eugene to Forbin-Janson, February 10, 1814).

Abbé de Mazenod decided to follow the Pope. He leaped aboard a vehicle and followed Pius VII right up to Tourves. He had the good fortune of being admitted to the papal apartment, to speak with the Holy Father and to receive his apostolic blessing. (JEANCARD, Mgr Jacques, “Mélanges historiques”, p. 235)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene – never shy, running right up to the Pope’s carriage and onto the footrest. He would not have had the security around him that the Pope has today. And then Eugene followed the Pope on his journey , quite a distance back then, which resulted with him being able to speak with the Pope and receive his blessing.

    This would have been a celebration – Napoleon freeing the Pope was yet another sign of his failure. Eugene had taken part in translating and distributing what the Pope had written, and he was the head of the Church. But I wonder if there wasn’t something more. When the Pope came to Ottawa in 1984, I along with hundreds of went on very wet day to sit on the side of a hill to attend the Pope’s outdoor Mass. At the end of the Mass most of the people saw the Pope get into a car and he was driven to a small building that surely provided him with some privacy and refreshments – so people left to return to their homes and businesses. My girlfriend and I knew that he would have to pass by us in a short while to get to wherever he was to go next, so we stood at the side of the road with a few photographers and waited. Sure enough his car appeared and drove slowly past us – the Pope was sitting behind the driver not more than 3 feet away from us. I remember quite clearly that he raised his hand as he smiled and blessed the two of us (and also any reporters that might have been with us although I do not remember any others being there). It has been less than five years after experiencing my conversion and returning to the Church but I was not really a great lover of the Pope. I can only say that I was drawn there to attend the Mass and then to wait to see him again and receive his blessing. I remember it so clearly and the impact it had on me.

    Was Eugene drawn to run out to meet the Pope’s carriage and then to follow him to Tourves where he got to speak with the Pope and receive his blessing? I imagine so. Did he imagine that he would go to Rome 10 years later to receive approval for his Constitutions and Rules for his new society?

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