Having been knocked off balance by his experiences in the Protestant part of Switzerland, Eugene found his equilibrium again when he saw his first crucifix in a public place.
Also, my heart was gladdened at the sight of the first cross I perceived as I entered the canton of Fribourg. We recited with joy the Vexilla as if we had just found our compass once more. Yet we had journeyed only two days in this beautiful country ravaged by heresy.
Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 29 July 1830, EO VII n 350
One Good Friday, nearly a quarter century earlier, Eugene had found the compass of his life looking at the Cross. Now he proves how it had remained his compass in all moment of his life, especially those of confusion and difficulty.
The Vexilla is a hymn dating back to the 5th century. A translation of the first verse is:
Abroad the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross’s mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.
“The cross is not just a badge to identify us…it is also the compass which gives us our bearings in a disoriented world.” John Stott