APPEALING DIRECTLY TO THE MINISTER

Eugene travelled hurriedly to Paris, where he was to remain from July until November 1817. On his arrival he wrote to his community in Aix:

I write only these two words, my dear and good brothers, to give you news of my happy arrival at Paris without mishap other than having shivered all the way from Lyon to here, while from Aix to Lyon, we could not breathe because of the heat. For the rest, my appetite was good and I slept soundly if not peacefully; the company was passable but not able to arouse me from a kind of musing which brought me back ceaselessly to you whom I had left so regretfully. It is to be hoped that it will not be long; I have already requested an audience from the Minister who will write me one of these days…

Letter to the Missionaries in Aix, 19 July 1817, O.W. VI n.17

After Napoleon’s reign, it became possible for the religious congregations and monasteries to function again. They began to approach the King and the Ministry of Cults for government recognition and permission to do so. Profiting from a new Concordat between the Pope and France, Eugene had approached the government in August 1816 to ask for official legal recognition of the Missionaries of Provence.

A few weeks later a new parliament was elected and their reaction against “clericalism” led to the Pope revoking the Concordat. Consequently, the Ministry did not encourage the approval of new congregations. He rather suggested that they fuse with other similar ones who had already been approved by the government. To Eugene he suggested a fusion with the Missionaries of France. Eugene was not in favour, and the Minister now resorted to delaying tactics, during which time the society could quietly continue its good work. Eugene had bided his time in this process.

The clash with the priests of Aix, however, made it necessary to have an official government recognition and a legal status as urgently as possible in order to avoid the destruction of his Missionaries. Hence Eugene’s hurried trip to Paris in July 1817.

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