God is my witness that I’m not afraid to die of cholera, typhus, or the plague, granted that it is while fulfilling the duties of my ministry to the sick that I contract one of these evils.
Eugene first expressed this sentiment on the eve of his priestly ordination in 1811. Twenty-four years later, he continues to repeat his Oblate conviction that true oblation means being prepared to lay down one’s life for others as Jesus did.
On the contrary, I ardently desire that kind of death, for I think it would be a very good way to expiate my sins; so if I go to Marseilles, I’m going to throw myself unreservedly into the fray after three days’ retreat, to put my soul in order before God. I will carry out this plan the moment the danger becomes pressing.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 19 July 1835, EO VIII n 523
These are not idle words. In 1814 he had risked his life to minister to the dying Austrian prisoners of war and this “cooperator of the Savior” had almost died himself. (See EM speaks…..