Eugene’s sister, Nathalie, had five children. One had died in 1825 at the age of 12, the other in 1829 at the age of 19 and now the third, Louis de Boisgelin had just died at the age of 27. The family was devastated, and their uncle, Eugene, was urged to take some healing time away with them in northern Italy. He and Father Jeancard (a former Oblate and now a diocesan priest in the diocese of Marseilles) spent two months away in Italy with the family.
The blow which just struck us has thrown, alas! too justifiably, my sister and my niece into a profound melancholy: this state would be dangerous for my niece if it were prolonged; it was therefore necessary to take them from here in order to distract them from their grief. My sister would have with difficulty decided to undertake a journey for which she conceals her own need, although she senses that her daughter can hardly do without it. This last consideration makes her overcome her aversion, but it was necessary for me to take part. I would have wished for all the world not to be reduced to this necessity; but I am not accustomed to listen to my aversions when it concerns the well-being of those who have a right to my affection and to my devotion.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 25 April 1842, EO XXI
That was his personal diary entry. To Father Tempier he wrote:
I undertook this trip only for reasons of charity and due affection for my sister and niece and nephew; far from anticipating the least pleasure therefrom. I had to force myself to undertake it… Nothing is more normal than the sacrifice I have made. The hope of restoring the health of such a charming child who is always so thin and feeble, as well as the desire to distract my sister from her profound sorrow are more than sufficient reasons to impose on a brother and uncle such as I greater sacrifices than the one I am gladly making. though it does cost me
Letter to Henri Tempier, 30 April 1842, EO IX n 762
Eugene used to insist that the Oblates reduce their attachment to their families, and yet he was so attached to his. Was it perhaps because he had suffered deeply being deprived of life with his family during all the years of his adolescence as an exile?