… It’s one long endless paper war against the powers of this world, big and small, far and near. It is a correspondence that centres repetitiously on the most minute details with all who must needs consult us so as to leave the responsibility for our decisions on our shoulders; add to this council meetings that last for four hours, etc.
Eugene was back in Marseilles as Vicar General of the diocese of his aged uncle Fortuné – embroiled in the all the difficulties caused by an anti-religious government. As difficult as it was to maintain the values of the Church, perseverance in the face of opposition did bring blessings.
But I must say that in all this turmoil there is some consolation to be had. To give you an example for your edification, May 3 was a real triumph for the cross and it is thanks to the resolution we took always to honour our ministry and not to back down in the face of any danger when it is a question of duty.
It was only right, after we had saved the cross from the latest outrage, when twice before the arrival of the Bishop the mayor had sent a town councillor to beseech us to remove it and shown us the bomb ready to explode and the town on the point of running with blood if we should pay no heed to such a just request, it was only right I say not to let the feast of the Finding of the Cross pass by without paying a signal act of homage to the crucified Saviour.
It was consoling to think that, while in most French towns Christ had been profaned and his cross torn from the people’s midst, our cross in the heart of an immense population soared above every head and was displayed as in the greatest days of its triumph. As a help to our people’s piety and to make reparation as far as it lay in our power for the outrages that Jesus our God had suffered elsewhere, we decided to give to this beautiful feast all the pomp that the people had the right to expect. In line with this, the full octave was announced at Calvaire, a triumphal arch was erected above the cross, the holy place was adorned with garlands of greenery, banners and tapestries and drew the attention of the passers-by, ravished with joy on learning of a ceremony so much in tune with their sentiments.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 7 May 1831, EO VIII n 390