Confirmation in my chapel as on every Monday. Visit of the ox for the Corpus Christi procession. It was intended to bring the animal up to the great hall. The people had invaded the bishop’s residence. I was obliged to do the honors for such a beautiful visit. Everybody showed great interest. They vied with one another to say the most flattering things: Noustre bel evesque nos fas tant de plaisir de lou voire etc. (Ed. Provencal: “Our nice bishop gives us such pleasure to see him)
For many years the Butcher’s Corporation of Marseilles had made an ox part of the Corpus Christi procession. Originally the reason was to recall the animals used in the Temple sacrifices of Israel. In Provence it had become part of folklore with a flower-covered ox, a little boy dressed as John the Baptist riding on its back, and butchers in costumes accompanying it. Because it was important for the people, Eugene initially allowed it to continue, but was later to stop this practice as it its inclusion turned the focus away from honoring the Blessed Sacrament.
He wryly concluded his journal entry:
Five Francs to little Jean-Baptiste, 10 Francs to the noble butchers, dressed in Henry IV costumes, apart from the cloak. A present to the man leading the victim. Thus everything ends up in money.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 11 June 1838, EO XIX