Fittingly, in this month of Mary, we celebrate on this May 21st Saint Eugène de Mazenod (+1861), the 19th century founder of the Missionaries Oblate of Mary Immaculate, whose idyllic childhood in France – he was born in 1782 – was interrupted by the upheavals of the Revolution of 1789, thus spending his formative years in exile abroad. He grew up mainly is Sicily, as his family moved from pillar to post, trying to regain what little of their fortune they had left behind.

Nonetheless, the handsome and noble Eugene received an excellent education, a priest, Father Bartolo Zinelli, taking him under his tutelage, with the young lad spending hours in the vast private libraries of the noble houses in which they were given refuge.

Eugène and was looking forward to a bright and successful future, a good marriage with some fortunate beautiful young woman with a substantial dowry, when, pondering the transitoriness of it all, and praying before Christ’s outstretched arms on the Cross, he underwent a deep conversion on Good Friday, 1807:

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