The concern of the missionaries to prolong the effects of the mission in everyday life was shown in the committees set up to mediate on disputes caused by the acquisition of national property.
Prior to the Revolution the majority of French land was owned by the Church and by the nobility. During the Revolution this property was confiscated as being national property and sold to others – a situation complicated by the issuing of promissory notes which had lost their value in time. Enormous conflicts came about when the original owners wanted restitution or when the nearly worthless promissory notes were re-claimed. It was a question of justice that demanded a Gospel-response to a delicate and difficult situation.
Eugene preached about this in Marignane:
Conference on restitution. We were not shy on the problem of the property sold by the state; we kept away only from mentioning the word ‘émigré’; a similar freedom over repayments in promissory notes.
Diary of the Marignane Mission, 4 December 1816, O.W. XVI
The correspondence of the missionaries echoes this:
A large number of restitutions happened and many cases were favorably resolved.
Letter of Hippolyte Guibert to Henri Tempier, 16 December 1825 in PAGUELLE DE FOLLENAY, Vie du Cardinal Guibert, p. 180).
Tempier, for example, wrote during the mission in Ancelle:
The major question to deal with here is restitution of national property. We had reason to fear that there would be many intractable people who would resist; however, in regard to injustices rectified, the mission at Ancelle is one of the best. At Ancelle, there were eighty people who had acquired national property, some at first, second, or even third hand. We held to the proportionate reparation of a sixth for those of second hand, and a third for those of first hand.
Letter of Henri Tempier to Eugene de Mazenod, May-June 1821 in Oblate Writings II, 2 n. 26.
At St. Pierre, where “many of the inhabitants had acquired émigré property,” Father Mye settled everything amicably “with the rightful owners who were favourably disposed to demand only what was just. In this way, if the property holders confessed that they had acquired the property in bad faith they were enabled to satisfy their religious obligations.” Cited by Simonin, “Chronique de la maison du Laus” (1818-1841), in Missions, 35 (1897), pp. 214-15