A letter to Henri Tempier, who was in Rome, in which Eugene gives an idea of the political turmoil in Marseilles – and the delicate position he found himself in as Vicar general of the diocese .

… Now everything is in a turmoil, mutual suspicions disrupt the peace. At every turn the troops make hostile demonstrations. The reason behind this state of affairs is a very bizarre call to arms.

In the 1830 Revolution, Louis Philippe had usurped the throne from the legitimate heir (something that the “legitimist” Eugene did not agree with). The wife of the one who should have been king was the Duchess de Berry (see,_duchesse_de_Berry ).

She disembarked in Marseilles, and this caused political tension. Some hotheads decided to hoist the white flag of the legitimate monarchy on the steeple of a church – thus involving Eugene, who was trying to maintain some semblance of calm in the diocese on this incendiary issue.

Three men thought they could create a big impression by hoisting a white flag on the top of the steeple of Saint-Laurent. I am still asking myself if those responsible for such a ridiculous plot oughtn’t to be sent to the madhouse rather than to prison where they are now held in close custody.

To Henri Tempier, 6 May 1832, EO VIII n 421

I publish this extract because it gives an idea of the delicate and sensitive situation in which the Church found herself under the anti-religious attitude of Louis Philippe’s government. It helps us to appreciate what Eugene was living through.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The steeple of a church – what were they thinking?

    I look at what Eugene wrote about them being better suited to a madhouse than prison. I love this statement, I enjoy being able to relate to him in this way. And it reminds me of what is taking place in our own world right now. Not just between our politicians at all levels, but right down to and including family members. Different ways of thinking and perspectives and then acting from those perspectives without giving thought as to how our actions might be received or understood.

    All of our knowledge and learning and still we have not changed all that much. “Now everything is in a turmoil, mutual suspicions disrupt the peace.” Not so much has changed in the last 200 years and even as I write this I think of the political intrigue during the time of Jesus, starting with his birth. This reminds me and helps me to deal with the small things that are happening in my life and how I am affected by the behavior of others as well as helping me to refocus on my own words and behavior.

    I ask myself how I place myself at the service of others? What are my attitudes and how do I live them out?

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