Since Eugene’s episcopal appointment was not to be as a bishop in charge of a diocese, he was given a titular diocese (that no longer existed) – Icosia. He explains to Father Tempier.

If you have an interest in Icosia, put this in your notebook; it is in Africa, as I told you; your friend’s mission is for Tripoli, with Tunis added on. The sensitivity of the French Government is no doubt the reason for not including Algiers.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 1 October 1832, EO VIII n 435

If you knew what Icosia is, your heart would beat a little faster. Its origins go back to the time of the fables; it is claimed that it was built by Hercules’ twelve companions who settled there at the time of the famous expedition to horizons “nec plus ultra”, in other words to Gibraltar. Its Greek name means: twenty. What is more certain is that it was the episcopal city in the heyday of the African Church and that Laurentius, its bishop, took part in the Council of Carthage held in 419, as legate of Mauretania Caesariensis, its province: “Laurentius Icositanus, Legatus Mauritaniae Caesariensis”, which serves to fix pretty well its location, and – pay careful attention, Father Hardouin claims that it is today’s Algiers. For my own part too I do not question it any more than he, and you will doubtless follow my opinion. I shall not fail to point it out to the Holy Father, on the day I go to receive his blessing.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 10 October 1832, EO VIII n 436

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Interesting that Eugene should feel it necessary to point out to Tempier where Icosia is – or was. A diocese that no longer existed in his own time but he thought might be Algiers. However I find when I hear that word Icosia, that it has become a word that describes the heart – where Eugene’s heart and soul was from 1832 until 1837. That time was one of great turmoil and suffering for Eugene and I have always tended to think of it as being his own road to Calvary – fitting for this man who modeled his own life on that of Jesus’ life.

    A ‘heart’ place. Eugene prepared himself for this with a retreat even though he did not know what the immediate future would hold for him. I think of the list of ‘Obediences’ which have just gone out – for some they are the same while others will be entering into something new, different from that which they are used to. I pause for a moment to wonder how they prepare, how they renew themselves.

    And I ask myself what that might look like in my own life. Where am I at? Am I pausing in my life? Am I somehow entering into a process of renewal or am I looking for a way to prepare myself. It is perhaps a place of both. There are no big sign posts, only the ordinary of the every-day life and yet that works for me. The words ‘Paschal Mystery’ come to me – for that is most certainly lived out in the place of the heart.

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