Eugene describes what he did in Marignane in a prayer service based on the Jewish Day of Atonement ceremony of Leviticus 16 involving the scapegoat of atonement. The aim of the missioanries was to illustrate the power of what Jesus did on the Cross for the people of Marignane:
So, the sermon over, the Superior went up into the pulpit to prepare and dispose minds to look upon what was going to take place with sentiments suitable to the occasion. He stressed the need for a generous expiation, following the example of Our Lord, of a number of saints… Finally, he invited the people to imitate the Jewish people and lay on him all their faults with sorrow in their hearts, comparing himself to the scapegoat which was going to be driven into the desert, burdened with all the iniquities of the people, alone worthy of heaven’s wrath which was to exhaust its vengeance upon him.
However, correcting himself immediately, he turned towards the cross saying that, even in that abject state, he would place all his trust in it; that he would embrace it and never let it go, and that thus he ran no risk; on the contrary, he had every reason to hope for mercy and pardon. This gesture made an impression.
He declared he would divest himself of the surplice, symbol of innocence, since now he represented sinners. He took it off, indeed, and draped it over the pulpit, from which he descended to go to the foot of the altar to receive, from the hand of the Parish Priest in his cope a heavy rope which he knotted around his neck; then, slipping off his shoes and socks, he took the penitential cross, and, in this state, placed himself at the head of the procession, while all the people and clergy sang in alternation the Parce Domine and a verse of the Miserere. The tears of all taking part choked their voices, and the impression that grace was at work was felt; the most hardened were moved. Not all were thus docile to the Lord’s inspirations; but enough were won by this act of expiation to give grounds for satisfaction for having offered it to the divine Majesty.
Diary of the Marignane Mission, 24 November 1816, O.W. XVI