François Joseph Roze, known as Joannis, was born at Isle on October 17, 1753, the son of Marie Joannis, wife of Mr. Rose. He was first cousin to Mrs. de Mazenod and Eugene used to call him his uncle “according to the custom of Brittany.” A former Oratorian without having been admitted to Holy Orders, François Joseph had taught the course of rhetoric at the college of Touron. A learned man, a man of letters, a writer with a doctor’s degree in law and in medicine, he was saturated with Jansenism. (REY I, p. 57)

He assisted Mrs. Joannis and Mrs. de Mazenod in recovering the de Mazenod lands and the buildings at Saint-Laurent-du-Verdon which had been confiscated by the state. He was always the counsellor who had the ear of Mrs. de Mazenod. According to some 1797 documents, no doubt to mislead the police, they made a trip together to Spain. They also spent three months together in Paris at Vichy in 1803.

When he returned to France in 1802, Eugene often met with his uncle and refers to him incessantly in his correspondence with his mother as well as with his father. His father thought that Mrs. de Mazenod was far too attached to her cousin. In a July 15, 1803 letter, Eugene answered him, giving him this not very flattering picture of Roze-Joannis. “A tall man with an unattractive face, sunken eyes, a monstrous nose, hollow cheeks, a big empty mouth in which, try as you might, you couldn’t find more than three and a half teeth; light grey hair, harsh voice… why go on? He is a veritable mass of decrepitude. And that, my dear Papa, is the Adonis by whom you kindly suppose my mother has been smitten.” (LEFLON, Jean, Eugene de Mazenod, vol. I, 1961, New York, trans. Francis D. Flanagan, o.m.i., p. 249)

On December 26, 1805 Eugene explains once again to his father why Mrs. de Mazenod continues to place confidence in her cousin “when you know that he is the only man in whom I place my trust, and without a doubt he deserves it, and I had to have strong proofs of his attachment to me for me to accord him my friendship notwithstanding the gulf dividing our religious views, for you know that my dear uncle is, worse luck for him, the most obstinate jansenist in christendom. I only hope that the austere life he leads and his generosity to all kinds of poor people will merit him the grace of entering the sheepfold which he and his confreres claim they have never left.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 14, no. 14, p. 26)

Eugene studied Jansenism a great deal in order to be able to debate with Roze-Joannis. At the beginning of his seminary studies in Paris, he does admit that he has no hope of converting his uncle while, for his part, his uncle really thinks he will win his seminarian nephew over to his point of view. In 1810, Eugene reproached his sister and his mother for going too seldom to communion and of following the jansenist teachings of Roze-Joannis. On December 14, 1810, he wrote: “I am praying hard for God to open my uncle’s eyes and show him the dreadful precipice at the edge of which he is standing, or to be more accurate into what an abyss he had already tumbled; but God gives his grace only to the humble, say the words of Scripture, and nobody can be said to be that if he substitutes his private judgment for that of the Church.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 14, no. 76, p. 168-169)

In spite of everything, relations between Roze-Joannis and Eugene were good. In the summer of 1808, Eugene asked Roze to tell his mother of his decision to enter the seminary. In the summer of 1813, he spent a few days at Saint-Laurent with Mrs. de Mazenod and Roze-Joannis. Roze, who was the mayor of Grans, was rejoicing in the admirable results of Abbé de Mazenod’s zeal at Aix and already suggested to him that he should give a mission in his town of Grans. This mission was preached with good results from February 11 to March 17, 1816. In the course of his illness, after the death of Father Marius Suzanne in January, 1829, Father de Mazenod was sent to recuperate at his uncle’s house in Grans where he stayed for the months of July and August.

After 1823, Father de Mazenod mentions Roze-Joannis rarely. Roze died at Grans on November 18, 1836. According to Father Rey, after a solemn retraction of his errors, he was reconciled with the Church. (REY I, p. 57) This statement finds confirmation in the inscription on his tombstone in Grans: Sanus mente abjuravit errores…, feliciter obiit in sinu Ecclesiae catholicae. [Of sound mind, he recanted from his errors… He died happily in the bosom of the Catholic Church.)

Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.