Before I interrupted the chronological exploration of St Eugene’s letters in http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=3839 we were reading the events of 1832. The anti-religious government had decided to suppress the Diocese of Marseilles once Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod would pass on. In order to ensure an episcopal presence in Marseilles for the sacraments, a plot was hatched between the Pope and Marseilles to ordain Eugene as a Bishop-visitor to North Africa, with the titular diocese of Icosia. This happened and Eugene returned to Marseilles, where he did episcopal ministry for his aging uncle undisturbed or so he thought…
A letter had arrived, nine months after his episcopal ordination, summoning him to Rome to meet the Pope, and giving no reason for the urgency. Eugene responded:
The Holy Father has put my obedience to a severe test: to set out and set out immediately, to leave the diocese in the middle of the pastoral visitation, to set out I might say notwithstanding an uncle very advanced in age, who in his old age leans on me and relies on my judgment in the government of his diocese, the length of the journey, the expense, family opposition, and who knows what besides? I have thought it my duty to impose silence on all these considerations at the voice of the Sovereign Pontiff who invites me urgently to set out immediately to receive some news which touches the good of the Church.
Short of coming on the wings of the wind, it would not be possible to hasten faster than I have done. As soon as your letter and that of the Cardinal prefect of Propaganda were delivered, I booked a place on the first steamship ready to depart.
Letter to Bishop L. Frezza, secretary of the Congregation for Ecclesiastical Affairs, in Rome, July 1833, EO XV n 171
Eugene recognized who the Pope represented for him in faith and he responded immediately, at great personal discomfort. Today the Pope continues to represent for us an important dimension of our faith understanding and expression.