With the tense situation around the welfare of Pope Pius IX, in exile in Gaeta, France sent an emissary of the government to invite him to take refuge in Marseilles. Eugene narrated:

In short, the Pope was infinitely touched by the conduct of France and by the personal sentiments of Mr. de Corcelles, but he did not give in for the time being.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 11 December 1848, EO XXI

Two weeks later, Eugene wrote:

 Letter from the Pope. I had not expected this new mark of his goodness. He had already entrusted Cardinal Antonelli to reply to me. This new reply must be regarded as a favor and a very special proof of benevolence. I value it as such:

“My dear Bishop,

            “Our heart is truly touched by the sight of the filial love which France has manifested to the vicar of Jesus Christ and of the interest it takes in the current situation. May God bless the eldest daughter of the Church and preserve her from the poisoned breath which perturbs such a large part of Europe. May he fill her with his abundant graces, so that she may see the religion of her fathers blossom ever more beautifully within her. We are temporarily in Gaeta. Providence has led us here without a premeditated plan on our part. We have the hope, nevertheless, that the opportunity will present itself for being able to show the French nation, in a more consoling manner, the affectionate feelings of our heart, which at this moment affectionately gives her the apostolic blessing.

            “Given at Gaeta, December 14, 1848. Pius IX, pope.”

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 27 December 1848, EO XXI


“The authority of the Head of the Church is a ministry entrusted to him for the good of all, to be carried out as a good Shepherd who watches over the salvation of the whole flock. It is incumbent upon the One invested with this ministry to “confirm his brothers in the faith” (Lk. 22:32), according to the glorious privilege given to him by Jesus Christ.” (Bishop Eugene’s Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Marseilles, 16 February 1860.)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate Associate says:

    As I sit here this morning I find myself silently singing “Seek the Lord, where he may be found…” which we sang at our recent Convocation as we came together to begin our daily work and at the beginning of our daily Eucharistic Celebrations.

    And this morning as I began to recognize the incredible tenderness of Pope Pius IX in his letter to Eugene. It reminds me somehow of Pope Francis as he greets and meets people no matter where he is. Loving tenderness. And I think of Pope John Paul II who was shot and who forgave the man who had tried to kill him.then met with the man who tried to kill him and forgave him.

    As recently as yesterday and the days before I demanded absolute perfection and holiness from our spiritual leaders here on earth. Not just the Pope, but all who are called to share the Good News, especially with all who are the most poor…

    The flow of tenderness and love is overflows from God to Pius IX to all of France, to Eugene and through him to not only his priests but to all of his sons and daughters and beyond…, so as to recognize that we also bear the mark and being, first of all human, then Christian and eventually saints.

    It is how we all become infinitely touched by God within all who we have met as well as those who we have not yet met.

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