Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

St. Eugene de Mazenod
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

St. Eugene de Mazenod

May 21

St. Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861) was born in southern France to a noble family. When he was eight years of age his family was forced to flee the turmoil of the French Revolution and seek political asylum in Italy. Leaving their possessions behind, the family struggled financially as they relocated from city to city. A sympathetic priest took it upon himself to educate Eugene and stir in him a love for God. When Eugene was twenty the family returned to France and were distressed to find a dramatically altered society; they were now ordinary citizens. The family was also plagued with in-fighting which culminated in a rare divorce. While Eugene's father remained in Italy, Eugene's mother fought to regain the family's possessions and force Eugene to marry a wealthy heiress. St. Eugene, deeply affected by how the Revolution had decimated the Church in France, decided to enter the seminary instead. After his ordination he sought out other zealous priests and together they went as missionaries into the countryside villages, calling themselves the "Missionaries of Provence," which was later approved by the pope as the "Oblates of Mary Immaculate." St. Eugene went on to become the Bishop of Marseilles. He did much work in restoring his diocese by building and repairing churches, doubling the number of priests, and bringing in religious communities. He also worked to weaken the government's monopoly on education, and supported the rights of the Holy See. St. Eugene de Mazenod the patron of dysfunctional families. His feast day is May 21st.

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