WE HAVE HAD SOME TERRIBLE DAYS TO THE POINT WHERE 400 DIED IN ONE DAY

Since Eugene was away, Henri Tempier wrote to Eugene’s mother to give her an update on the horror of the situation in Marseilles

Madame, I understand that you will be less anxious if you know what is happening here. That is why I hasten to let you know that up till now we are all fine, thanks to God’s goodness. We have had some terrible days to the point where 400 died in one day. We didn’t know any more how to bury the dead which had to be taken away by the cartloads. Today, the malady has lessened considerably. We owe this to the Blessed Virgin’s protection.

At Aix, the plague continues, but the cases are not too many. The day before yesterday I was in that unfortunate city in the hope of finding my brother-in-law Mitre still alive. He had been stricken by the disease and died before I got there.

Keep well, Madame, and don’t ever think of coming back to our area as long as the plague continues to rage. Our venerable Prelate continues to be in good health as usual. Your son should by now have arrived at N.-Dame du Laus. Please accept again my respectful good wishes.

Letter of Henri Tempier to Madame de Mazenod, 29 July 1835, EO2 Tempier n 76

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One Response to WE HAVE HAD SOME TERRIBLE DAYS TO THE POINT WHERE 400 DIED IN ONE DAY

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Henri Tempier would most surely have been forgiven had he been unable to pause in his taking care of the dying to write a note to Eugene’s mother. We can only imagine how long were his days and how short his nights and times of rest and caring for himself. And yet he takes precious moments from his days to write to Eugene’s mother to let her know how they are coping in Marseilles and Aix, and to reassure her that her son was well and would have arrived at Notre Dame du Laus.

    There is a respectful tenderness here that touches me deeply this morning; Henri Tempier who only days before had lost his own brother to the epidemic and who was working without pause to care for the dying took time to think of another knowing that it would lighten her load to hear that her son was okay and also to be kept in the loop about the unending tragedy being lived out where she lived. Even his mention of Our Lady is gentle, reminding me of how even as Jesus was dying he turned his own mother over to his friends and his friends over to his mother.

    This image, this light presented to us will forever colour how I think of Henri Tempier. Words like steadfast and true come to mind and all of that wrapped in tenderness.

    Yesterday was day 1 of a course/retreat that I am taking part in with my indigenous brothers and sisters who are sharing, teaching, guiding, and walking with all of us. The title of these days spent together is “Belonging”. Belonging – that could well be the sub-title to this morning’s reflection. It is in wearing this mantle of tender love and ‘belonging’ that I begin and share my day.

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