Eugene had lived through two vicious revolutions in France (1789 and 1830) and it was understandable that the population was afraid that this revolution, which had established a Republic, would turn violent too. He wrote in his diary about the situation in Marseilles, where a mob had turned to violence:

Our excellent population rose in force, so to speak, to suppress the disorder which a mob, bribed or greedy to loot, wanted to perpetrate at the dawn of the Republic. During the past night, they stormed the mayor’s house, smashing all the windows and damaging the facade; they also broke all the windows of the courthouse and the city hall, as well as a large number of lampposts. But a national guard was formed by honest people, and these badly-intentioned people were constrained. On the night of Saturday to Sunday 28th, they were forced to content themselves with going around town singing the “Marseillaise”. This time they passed through the rue de l’Évêché, but made no demonstration in front of the bishop’s house. I did not abandon my residence despite the insistence of some. I went to the cathedral church (it was Sunday of Sexagesima) and in a short while I will be administering the sacrament of Confirmation to a sick person, without the least anxiety.


Later, Eugene’s reflections on these events was to continue his everyday duties:

I return from administering the sacrament of Confirmation to my sick person. I have been touched by the demonstration of interest which was shown to me in every street through which I passed. People cried out when I passed by and they requested my blessing with an expression that made me think that these good people had been able to believe that I had been disturbed during these events.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 27-28 February 1848, EO XXI

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I find myself thinking of how this applies to me, today, some 200+ years after the physical life of Eugene. The world today is filled with controversies, seething anger and violence… How do I keep myself on track: a track filled flowing goodness and life, love, trust in God…? I find myself responding as I think of the word “community” – a place where I am not alone, but rather walking with…

    The Spirit reminds me of the letter from Fr. Chicho written all of his brothers and sisters on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul; reminding us that we are called and invited to walk with my two favorite Saints. It is yet another invitation to join together as pilgrims of Hope in Community.

    My eyes catch sight of the letter from Fr. Chicho on the Feast Day of St. Paul’s Conversion. It invites me to read it again and asks me how I might follow in the light and love of both saints – Paul and Eugene and their conversions and ways of being.

    “We go on pilgrimage with hope in communion in these times that present us with shocking challenges: wars, injustices, the degradation of the planet, divisions, abuses of all kinds, etc. do not leave us indifferent. Difficult times, a change of epoch. Today the liturgy and our family memories invite us to open ourselves to conversion as a response to these challenges. Let us allow the Spirit of Jesus to transform us and teach us to respond with audacity and with our lives: is Christ really at the center of our lives? are the poor at the center of our mission? are the brothers and sisters in community at the center of my relationships?” (from the Superior General’s Homily of January 25, 2024)

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