Assured of a financial income that would guarantee the possibility of a better lifestyle in their country of origin close to their families, the three de Mazenod brothers arrived in Marseille on 27 December and were met with joy by Eugene after a separation of 15 years. Fortuné was greeted by the civil, military and religious authorities as if he were already the Bishop of Marseille.
The rose-coloured dream was not to last long!
While the three brothers were travelling from Sicily, Eugene had sent a letter warning them that there were difficulties with the Concordat agreement. The unsuspecting travellers were only to learn this on their arrival in Marseille:
The devil has already measured, weighed the extent and effect of all this good; which explains why he sought to place obstacles, and he raised difficulties which, I hope, will soon be removed…
… the clique of evil men have protested about the large quantity of new dioceses recently erected; the Minister thought that he was doing wonders by withdrawing the nomination of some sees. Marseille is one of them.
Letter to Father Fortuné de Mazenod, in Palermo, 17 November 1817, O.W. XV n. 143 (Cf. Rambert I, 241 and Rey I, 215.)
The agreement between the Pope and the King of France, the Concordat, had been cancelled, and with it the assurance of the re-establishment of the diocese of Marseille. In this uncertain situation Fortuné went to live in Aix with the Missionaries, where he remained for the next five years. Eugene’s father and his uncle Louis settled in a rented apartment in Marseille.
For the time being, all Eugene’s dreams of episcopal protection had come to nothing. The three de Mazenod brothers were to live times of disillusion and difficulty in the years ahead. We will follow their fortunes in later entries.