GOD’S GRACE MADE A HERO OF VIRTUE OUT OF A WOMAN CONDEMNED TO DEATH

Eugene’s willingness to give the sacraments to a prisoner condemned to death went against the attitudes of many of the local priests and authorities who were still entrenched in the principles of Jansenism.

That good Father Lagier, all entrenched in narrow minded thinking, was already stunned when he heard me speaking the other day and assured me that he would never have dared to do it, that the very thought of giving Communion to that poor condemned man would never have entered his mind.
To enforce the idea and put him on guard against some insinuations of certain priests, directors like himself at the Major Seminary, who heard me and said nothing, I recounted to him what I did for the famous Germaine who was guillotined at Aix in 1812 or 13. Tears came to the eyes of those priests when they heard the account of the admirable dispositions of that woman to whom I gladly gave Communion on the very morning of her death and who received it with better dispositions than perhaps any of us has had when we went up to the altar. God’s grace made her a hero of virtue.
It is not possible for me to refrain from recording somewhere the details of that beautiful death and the holy preparation that preceded it. I told those priests that the present chaplain of the Conciergerie at Paris fully professes the same teaching on this matter and does the same as I did for poor Germaine. To put Father Lagier at ease, I ended by telling him in the presence of Father Arnaud, the Vicar General, to do as I have done.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 14 July 1837, EO XVIII

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One Response to GOD’S GRACE MADE A HERO OF VIRTUE OUT OF A WOMAN CONDEMNED TO DEATH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded for a moment of the two thieves on either side of Jesus as he was dying on the cross. There was one who jeered him while the other asked for mercy and that Jesus remember him when he came into his kingdom. Each of the thieves looked at Jesus through a different lens and so responded to him differently.

    Seeing through the eyes of our crucified Saviour – not always a ‘feel good’ exercise as we die to ourselves, letting go of judgements and unconscious self-righteousness. Eugene shares with us how to love, how to see through the eyes of perfect love, especially the poorest of the poor, the ones who are judged to be hopeless, unworthy, unredeemable…

    Poor Fr. Lagier was bound up with current and popular ways of thinking and Eugene shared with him the true story of Germaine who was condemned to die; teaching him to see through the eyes of Jesus on the Cross, through the eyes of love and compassion.

    I read the last line: “…I ended by telling him in the presence of Father Arnaud, the Vicar General, to do as I have done.”

    There is a hymn that we sing on Holy Thursday which is still a ways off: “Do you know what I have done for you, you who call me your teacher and your Lord? (David Haas – Song of the Lord’s Command)

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