Eugene continues to reflect in his diary on the enthusiastic reaction of the people of Aix to the blessings of his ministry.
Nevertheless, the time came when it was necessary for me to recognize that everyone is not like me. Initially I encountered only petty jealousies for which I was well compensated by the people’s enthusiastic attachment which was vigorously shown me on several occasions; among others during the illness that brought me a hair’s breadth away from death, and
This was in the context of the conflict with the Cathedral Chapter over the choir screens that Father de Mazenod had arranged to remove during the city mission of 1820. Cf. J. Leflon, Bishop de Mazenod, II, pp. 125-126.
when I was carried triumphantly from the cathedral to the Church of the Mission by a crowd that wanted to take revenge for the insult they believed I had received. My voice alone was able to calm the crowd’s anger. Oh, good city of Aix, would to God that I had never left your walls. I would have spent my life sanctifying your children and all your people, and I would have reaped nothing but consolation in return for my devotion. But what then of that saying that no man is a prophet in his own land? It was necessary that this word be proven true, if not in my native city, then at least in the city I was forced to adopt.
This was not the case in Marseilles where he experienced much personal suffering and rejection by the people when he was Vicar General there from 1823 onwards.
It was in Marseilles that I was to encounter all the resentment which was the price I had to pay for the delights of my first years, spent so joyfully in the sweetness of a mutual love from all around me and in the realization that my heart held sway over a large, grateful, and devoted population. What can I say about a great people! And all those places that I had evangelized during the nine years I dedicated to the holy missions! Was there even one of them that did not show me proof of the most sincere gratitude for the blessings I obtained for them and for the devotion with which they saw me sacrifice my existence, and one could say my life, in order to bring them back to God?
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 31 March 1839, EO XX