Eugene narrates the moving experience of ministering to the prisoner condemned to death:
All the prisoners and some other people took part in it. Fathers Lagier and Mille served at the altar. We obtained permission for the condemned man to be freed from some of his irons to be able to come to the chapel. He still had enough chains to make his presence known whenever he made the least movement. Actually, we only heard him when he came in and once kneeling he remained still, reading from his book throughout the entire mass. At Communion time, I moved everyone aside to station him on the lowest altar step. The feast was for him, the honors were due to him since, even though he was condemned to death and weighed down with chains as I saw him, he was then reconciled with God. God had pardoned his crimes; to my eyes he was to be admired, a privileged person for whom the Lord had worked marvels, to whom I was going to give the efficacious means of perseverance, someone predestined who would possibly be in heaven in a few days. Even though several other people were to receive Communion, I spoke only to him. Those words were inspired in me by our divine Saviour Jesus Christ whom I was holding in my hands and they penetrated the very soul of that poor Christian who broke out in tears. I was also moved and tears fell from the eyes of everyone present, even the prisoners who were undoubtedly overjoyed at such a scene and themselves felt the workings of grace on hearing proclaimed the mercies of God in favor of a great sinner, but a repentant one, as they no doubt were themselves at that moment.
After the Mass, I had the condemned man come forward again and spoke to him as an immediate preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Confirmation that I was to administer to him. His tears did not dry up and it seemed that our hearts were truly ardent when all those marvelous things happened before our eyes through my great ministry. I concluded by giving a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. They do it sometimes in that chapel, and it was fitting that nothing be lacking in the solemnity of this day.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 16 July 1837, EO XVIII
What an amazing example of treating a person with dignity, as undeserving as the world considered him to be!