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St. Eugene de Mazenod


Eugene de Mazenod's spiritual journey and personality were profoundly influenced by his family's values and struggles amidst the insecurity and ambiguity of the Italian exile. During his time of exile in Venice (1794-1797), a holy priest, Don Bartolo Zinelli, introduced him to the spirituality of the Company of Jesus. From him as a young boy, Eugene learned how to pray and how to practice mortification. Don Bartolo also initiated him to a devotion to the Virgin Mary "It was there", Eugene would later write, "that my vocation to the priesthood was born".

Special Graces
Two interior graces transformed Eugene in his twenties. The first was a grace of "conversion". During the adoration of the cross on Good Friday in 1807, Eugene had a special experience of the love and goodness of Christ which culminated in the shedding of his blood to obtain the forgiveness of all sins. Simultaneously conscious of his own sins and filled with a sense of profound confidence in Divine Mercy, Eugene decided to make amends through the total gift of his life to Jesus his Savior.

A second moment of grace, which he describes as "an impulse from without" from the Spirit , led him to a decision for the priesthood. In 1808, he would enter the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris and be ordained a priest at Amiens, on December 21, 1811. His dream was to be "the servant and priest of the poor".

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