Despite opposition from some in the city, the military authorities and the press, the procession was a great success.

The news of this decision had filled the Catholics with joy and, in spite of the remarks of certain fainthearted persons who foreshadowed trouble, it could have been said that a person could rely more on the tranquility of spirit that I showed than on all these fears, and each one made it a duty to reply to the invitation that I extended to the various confraternities and congregations to unite with me to give glory to our Lord.

A large number of women and young ladies from different parishes of the city, the gentlemen of the association for the accompaniment of Holy Viaticum, the churchwardens, the penitents and the clergy went to the cathedral at the appointed hour and, since the cholera [ed. the deadly epidemic of 1837], never had a procession been so splendid and so touching. It was a concert of praises and of admiration to which the entire populace responded. Everyone competed, in accordance with the beauty of the day, in contributing to the magnificence of the feast and to the public joy.

Now everyone is complimenting me, and I am enjoying a true happiness in seeing how things transpired and with what piety this grand feast was celebrated.

Eugene’s Diary, 15 August 1848, EO XXI

A few days later he wrote to an Oblate:

Here we tried to honor her in the best of way we could. I ordered the statue of Our Lady de la Garde brought down to be part of the procession of the Blessed Sacrament which was very solemnly done on August 15, the Blessed Virgin has thus received her share of homage from the people of my diocese. Everything went very well, and I find that I have all the more to congratulate myself for having resisted all insinuations that wanted to deter me from having this beautiful procession. Nothing like it had been seen since our processions at the time of the cholera: the same eagerness, respect, and even more, universal joy in all the population. This is not the first time that I recognize that there are graces of state.

Letter to Fr. Joseph Arnoux, 20 August 1848, EO X n 985


“Lourdes, where non-Catholics imagine that we accord Mary undue eminence, is no doubt that place in the world where Christ in the Eucharist is most glorified. It is the only place in the world where, under the veil of the Host, Christ mingles in the midst of so many people and is as closely pressed by them as He was during His mortal life. His mother prays for these bodies and these souls, and Christ cures them. The procession of the Blessed Sacrament in Lourdes starts from the Grotto to show that Jesus was given to us by the Virgin. And she who stood on Golgotha, at the foot of the Cross a condemned Man, stands here by the side of the King of eternal glory.” (Francois Mauriac)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate Associate says:

    I wonder if some of Eugenes daring and courage, as well as joy in the procession wasn’t aided by his memory of his August 15, 1822 experience before the statue of the Madonna. Such an experience is not some dim memory of something that happened “back then”, but rather an experience that lives on; not being bound by our concepts of time and physicality, rather like an experience of standing at the foot of the cross. I find myself trying to describe but only able to say that it is “like” this or that but which is more real than physical life itself.

    Eugene called this a grace of state, which may or may not have referred to his life as Founder and Bishop. It is also something that many may not experience until they die and come face-to-face with our crucified Saviour.

    Yesterday as we gathered in our churches and chapels around the world, we found ourselves coming to listen to the Passion and in spite of a world that sometimes seems to be descending into darkness and chaos, there was an inexplicable sense of order, rightness and unspoken joy at our coming together.

    Perhaps these are graces of the very states that each of us are called to…

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