Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self. (Karen Salmansohn)

One of the more colorful cooperators of Bishop Eugene, in reaching out to the poor, was the fish-seller known as Babeau. The biographer Rey gives the details:

In 1843, Father Barrelle preached the Lenten sermons at the Church of the Trinity. He had the consolation of converting a woman from the market, known in Marseille under the name of Babeau or Elisabeth. Nothing was done in the market without her approval; she was the queen of the market. “To bring a woman to her senses,” she said, “for me it is less than nothing, but to flatten a man under my blows and when he is down to give him more at my pleasure, that is “my business”. Such feats, accompanied by cries and frightful swearing, were a daily occurrence for her”

When she returned to God, she devoted herself entirely to the apostolate inspired by Father. Every day she regularly brought five or six new conquests to the confessional, sometimes many more. It was a matter of ensuring the perseverance of these converts, hence the foundation of the Congregation of Saint Anne. In less than two years, the association grew prodigiously.

Rey page 204

She remained close to Bishop Eugene and would often stop his carriage to talk with him when he drove past the market.

Where do I focus my energy each day? What does Babeau teach me?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    Babeau/Elisabeth was filled with passion and life and was loved and obviously respected by Eugene as well as those who made their meager livings in the market. In today’s world people would say that Babeau was filled with “attitude”.

    “When she returned to God, she devoted herself entirely to the apostolate inspired by Father.” When she returned to God – a slightly different and more profound sense than just saying she came into the Church, or she came back into the Church. “When she returned to God” invites us to see where she came from in the first place and to whom she belonged – so much more than her place in society.

    I am reminded of the transfiguration – how the apostles got to see the true Jesus, son of God and even though it was just for a moment – their way of seeing Jesus was forever transformed. Eugene was no different – he was still Eugene, passionately alive after his Good Friday experience and yet forever changed.

    Last night the sunset was unbelievably magnificent and lasted for almost an hour after the sun itself had dipped below the horizon, it’s ever-deepening colours reflected off of the clouds and the sky itself. This morning, the sun rises behind me, in the east as I look out at its brilliant reflection on the buildings to the west. As I witnessed this transformation from day into night and now night into day reminds me that just as the sun was reflected from buildings old and new and tall and small, from the clouds and the air, God was still out there. Not just out there but also from within. A quick look to the windows and the light feathery clouds in the sky have become a deep pink colour against the blue heavens. Such beauty brings me to tears of wonder and delight and all I can do is thank God for the life I have been given. Even the skies and the buildings reflect the mystery and the glory that is God and is reflected in all of life.

    My focus only deepens as I sit here with Eugene and Babeau and all those who I have had the gift to meet.

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