Eugène de Mazenod

  (Redirected from Eugène-Charles-Joseph de Mazenod)

Eugène de Mazenod (born Charles-Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod; 1 August 1782 – 21 May 1861), more commonly known as Eugène de Mazenod, was a French Catholic priest. At the age of eight, the Mazenod family was forced to flee the French Revolution, leaving their considerable wealth behind. As refugees in Italy, they were very poor, and moved from place to place. At the age of twenty, he returned to France and became a priest. Mazenod founded the congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Initially focused on rebuilding the Church in France after the Revolution, their work soon spread, particularly to Canada. Mazenod was appointed Bishop of Marseille in 1837, and Archbishop in 1851. He was beatified on 19 October 1975 by Pope Paul VI, and canonized on 3 December 1995 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is 21 May.


Charles-Joseph-Eugene de Mazenod

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St. Eugène de Mazenod
Bishop of Marseille
Born1 August 1782
Died21 May 1861
Venerated inCatholicism
BeatifiedOctober 19, 1975 by Pope Paul VI
CanonizedDecember 3, 1995 by Pope John Paul II
FeastMay 21[1]
Eugène de Mazenod
Appointed2 October 1837
Term ended21 May 1861
PredecessorFortuné-Charles de Mazenod
SuccessorPatrice-François-Marie Cruice
Ordination21 December 1811
Consecration14 October 1832
by Carlo Odescalchi, S.J.
Ordination history of
Eugène de Mazenod
Priestly ordination
Date21 December 1811
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorCarlo Odescalchi, S.J.
Co-consecratorsChiarissimo Falconieri Mellini,
Luigi Frezza
Date14 October 1832
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Eugène de Mazenod as principal consecrator
Joseph Hippolyte Guibert, O.M.I.11 March 1842
Marie-Jean-François Allard, O.M.I.13 July 1851
Alexander-Antonine Taché, O.M.I.23 November 1851
Jean-Etienne Sémeria, O.M.I.17 August 1856
Jacques Jeancard, O.M.I.28 October 1858
Vital-Justin Grandin, O.M.I.30 November 1859



Eugene de Mazenod was born on 1 August 1782 and baptized the following day in the Église de la Madeleine in Aix-en-Provence. His father, Charles Antoine de Mazenod, was one of the Presidents of the Court of Finances, and his mother was Marie Rose Joannis. Eugene began his schooling at the College Bourbon, but this was interrupted by the events of the French Revolution. With the approach of the French revolutionary forces, the family was forced to flee to Italy.[2]

Eugene became a boarder at the College of Nobles in Turin (Piedmont), but a move to Venice meant the end to formal schooling.[2] With their money running out, Eugene's father was forced to seek various employments, none of which were successful. His mother and sister returned to France - eventually seeking a divorce so as to be able to regain their property that had been seized. Eugene was fortunate to be welcomed by the Zinelli family in Venice. One of their sons, the priest Bartolo Zinelli, took special care of Eugene and saw to his education in the well-provided family library where the young adolescent spent many hours each day. Don Bartolo was a major influence in the human, academic and spiritual development of Eugene.

Once again the French army chased the émigrés from Venice, forcing Eugene and his father and two uncles to seek refuge in Naples for less than a year, and finally to flee to Palermo in Sicily. Here Eugene was invited to become part of the household of the Duke and Duchess of Cannizaro as a companion to their two sons. Being part of the high society of Sicily became the opportunity for Eugene to rediscover his noble origins and to live a lavish style of life. He took to himself the title of 'Comte' ("Count") de Mazenod, did all the courtly things, and dreamed of a bright future.[2]


At the age of twenty, Eugene returned to France and lived with his mother in Aix en Provence. Initially he enjoyed all the pleasures of Aix as a rich young nobleman, intent on the pursuit of pleasure and money - and a rich girl who would bring a good dowry. Gradually he became aware of how empty his life was,[3] and began to search for meaning in more regular church involvement, reading and personal study, and charitable work among prisoners. His journey came to a climax on Good Friday, 1807 when he was 25 years old. Looking at the sight of the Cross, he had a religious experience. He recounted the spiritual experience in his retreat journal:

Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday? Indeed they welled up from the heart, there was no checking them, they were too abundant for me to be able to hide them from those who like myself were assisting at that moving ceremony. I was in a state of mortal sin and it was precisely this that made me grieve…Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.[4]


In 1808, he began his studies for the priesthood at the Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Paris and was ordained a priest at Amiens (Picardy), on 21 December 1811.[5] Since Napoleon had expelled the Sulpician priests from the seminary, Eugene stayed on as a formator for a semester. As a member of the Seminary, notwithstanding personal risk, Eugene committed himself to serve and assist Pope Pius VII, who at this time was a prisoner of emperor Napoleon I at Fontainebleau. In this way he experienced at firsthand the suffering of the post-Revolutionary Church.

On his return to Aix, Father de Mazenod asked not to be assigned to a parish but to dedicate himself fully to evangelizing those who were not being reached by the structures of the local church: the poor who spoke only the Provençal language, prisoners, youth, the inhabitants of poor villages who were ignorant of their faith.[3] The goal of his priestly preaching and ministry was always to lead others to develop themselves fully as humans, then as Christians and finally to become saints.


Oblates of Mary ImmaculateEdit

On 25 January 1816, "impelled by a strong impulse from outside of himself" he invited other priests to join him in his life of total oblation to God and to the most abandoned of Provence. Initially called "Missionaries of Provence," they dedicated themselves to evangelization through preaching parish missions in the poor villages, youth and prison ministry. In 1818 a second community was established at the Marian shrine of Notre Dame du Laus. This became the occasion for the missionaries to become a religious congregation, united through vows and the evangelical counsels. Changing their name to Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the group received papal approbation on 17 February 1826.[6]

Foreign MissionsEdit

In 1841, Bishop Bourget of Montreal invited the Oblates to Canada. At the same time, there was an outreach to the British Isles. This was the beginning of a history of missionary outreach to the most abandoned peoples in Canada, United States, Mexico, England and Ireland, Algeria, Southern Africa and Ceylon during the founder's lifetime. In 200 years this zeal spread and took root in the establishment of the Oblates in nearly 70 countries.

Bishop Mazenod


After having aided for some time his uncle, the aged Bishop of Marseilles, in the administration of his diocese, Father De Mazenod was called to Rome and, on 14 October 1832, consecrated titular Bishop of Icosium, which title in 1837 he exchanged for that of Bishop of Marseilles, a position he held until his death in 1861. During his episcopacy, he commissioned Notre-Dame de la Garde, an ornate Neo-Byzantine basilica on the south side of the old port of Marseille. He favoured the moral teachings of Alphonsus Liguori, whose theological system he was the first to introduce in France, and whose first biography in French he caused to be written by one of the Oblates.[6]

He inspired local priest Joseph-Marie Timon-David to found the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Marseille in 1852.

In spite of his well-known outspokenness, he was made a Peer of the French Empire, and in 1851 Pope Pius IX gave him the pallium.[6]


  1. ^ "Eugène de Mazenod", Saints Resource, RCL Benziger
  2. ^ a b c "Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861)", Vatican News Service
  3. ^ a b "St. Eugene de Mazenod", Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  4. ^ "Why the Cross as Focus? Because Its Love Conquers the Death of Sin | Eugene de Mazenod speaks to us". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  5. ^ "Saint Eugene de Mazenod", Franciscan Media
  6. ^ a b c Morice, Adrian. "Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 30 July 2018

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

External linksEdit