With the restoration of the Bourbon kings in France, the Church was once again given the chance to function freely. Many in France, however, became uncomfortable with the close bond between the monarchy and religion and feared a return to the situation of the Ancien Regime that the Revolution had tried to destroy. Labeled as the “liberals,” this group began to agitate for change when Charles X became king in 1824. To weaken the king, the liberals in the government targeted religion.

In 1828 they passed two laws that affected the Church directly, both linked with education. With the return of the monarchy, the bishops had been given control of the religious education in the schools and had established minor seminaries for secondary school boys. The ordinance of April 21 removed the grade schools from the jurisdiction and direction of the bishops. The second ordinance, of June 16, attacked secondary schools by forbidding religious to be teachers, limiting the number of seminarians, and establishing rules that were in conflict with the bishops.

In the face of this attack on the Church, Eugene de Mazenod and his uncle, Bishop Fortuné of Marseilles, could not remain silent and searched for effective ways to respond. Eugene was away from Marseille at this time and wrote to Tempier:

How can I express the sorrow that I feel at the sight of such great disorders? You understand, you who share so well my sentiments. It is not enough to groan, one must make resound in the entire world the voice of the strongest protests…

In the face of all this, he felt how powerless and his efforts insignificant:

I find myself like a lion who feels all his vigor, his strength and his courage, but who bites impotently on his chain and bit, whitening them with his froth.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 June 1828, EO VII n 304

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene was always able to express himself and vividly paint a picture of how he felt. A lion, mighty and strong with a roar that could be heard across the lands – chained and powerless, it’s jaws once mighty and now seemingly weak, impotent. His beloved Church once again being forced to its knees and being bound.

    How would I react I wonder if this was to happen in my own country, in the here and now? With instantaneous communications it would quite likely come and be cloaked in something else, the changes would be small but relentless and the freedom would most likely seem to slip away one small piece at a time. The reasoning for it would most likely be veiled so as to make people think it was for the betterment of all.

    I can’t help but think of what it was like here in what we now call Canada for my indigenous brothers and sisters, the taking away the rights of some so as to build up the rights and privileges and lives of others. Quite insidious actually. And as I write these very words the pictures come to mind of many other ways of doing this – the clothes that I wear that have been made in other poorer countries by people who are paid an unacceptably low pittance so that I do not have pay for the real worth of what I want to buy here.

    And what can I do to change any of that? Not a comfortable place to sit in this morning as my mind returns to the chained lion biting impotently on his chain and bit…

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    Now that’s a quoteable quote, Frank! Love it!

Leave a Reply to Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *