The sale of the large house in Billens, Switzerland, was concluded.

It is today that I take possession of Billens. I went there the day before yesterday with my mother who remained to arrange a thousand details. I would wish we could settle in on the 15th, the feast of Saint Theresa and St. Cannat. Having signed the contract on the feast of Saint Defendant, patron or at least saint of the diocese of Marseilles, I would be happy to enter the house on the day we celebrate the feast of another patron of Marseilles. There are many things to do but, for the moment, we will sleep on mattresses; the bed boards of pine only cost ten francs; they are small but very pretty ….

Letter to Henri Tempier, 10 October 1830, EO VII n 365

Eugene, fearful for the safety of the younger members of the Oblate community, made sure to invoke the protection of many saints that he was associated with.

Rey describes the precautions taken in France to ensure the safety of the young religious:

“Before signing the purchase agreement, Father de Mazenod, assisted by Fr. Tempier had arranged how the scholastics would leave Marseille and come to Fribourg: the Superior of the Major Seminary had offered them generous hospitality while they waited for the sale of the house of Billens to be completed. The first group left Marseilles on the 8th of September, the day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin. Two others followed them two days apart. All passed by N.D. du Laus, where Fr. Guibert awaited them. Then they went by different routes to their destination. Prudence required these precautions so as not to attract the attention of the towns through which the travelers had to cross. It was a moment of profound happiness for Fr. de Mazenod when he was surrounded by the fourteen young scholastics who represented future of his religious family.”    REY I p. 493

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Not exactly having to flee for their lives as Eugene did when he was younger, but still to ensure their safety and being able to study and practice their faith as they were called, the 14 scholastics had to leave France and go to Switzerland. The danger being very real, they had to travel in pairs and using different routes. I begin to appreciate even more deeply what it was like for some to live in those times in France.

    Eugene’s ‘profound happiness’ at having the young men around him is that of a father’s happiness for his sons and that not said glibly. I think of my blood family, and then there is my parish which has become over the last thirty plus years my family – not separate from the first but rather a part of, fitting into and with. Then there are the Oblates, St. Eugene, the Oblate Associates, this treasured Mazenodian Family and the deepest part of me. We are all a part of something so much greater than ourselves, a part of the Church and a part of all of creation, as we spoke of yesterday at St. Paul University. And even there being a part of a larger combined family as defined by shared hearts. And another glimmer of what ‘being sent’ can look like.

    I think of Eugene and the times ahead of him that will be so very difficult and am happy for him and the joy that he received having his newest sons around him. Even if they do not all remain with the Oblates they will somehow remain in his heart. Once a heart is opened in love that love will always be there. If it is through Jesus, if it is as seen through the eyes of Jesus crucified and risen it will always be there. A small glimpse of the immensity that is God’s love for each of us – and when we enter into that becoming a part of that immensity.

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