In 1832 there had been an initial outbreak of cholera in Marseilles while Eugene was in Rome to be made Bishop of Icosia. Fearing that it would lead to epidemic proportions, Eugene approached the Pope to grant a series of indulgences to people of the diocese who responded to the needs of those dying of cholera. Eugene’s list received papal approval in November 1832.
1/ A plenary indulgence for those who had contracted the illness and went to confession;
2/ 100 days for each person who visited the sick to bring them spiritual or material help;
3/ A plenary indulgence once a week to those who cared for the cholera victims in their (usually fatal) illness;
4/ 100 days for each priest approved as a confessor each time he heard the confession of a cholera victim;
5/ a plenary indulgence once a week to priests who assisted those dying of cholera.
Papal Audience of 2 November 1832 in Rey I p. 617.
Perhaps the question of indulgences does not speak as loudly today as it did then, but the point of this text is to show how serving the cholera victims was portrayed as a Gospel corporal work of mercy. This was highlighted by the fact that the illness was highly contagious and that people obviously avoided those who had contracted it. Thus, those who remained to give the necessary assistance were being shown that whatsoever they did to one of these victims, at great danger to themselves, they did it to God (cf. Matthew 25) and in God’s name.
The 1832 cholera outbreak did not take hold and last, but in January 1835, cholera broke out again and this list of indulgences was promulgated and published in every church and oratory of the diocese.