Mazenod, Charles Joseph Eugène de, St.
MAZENOD, CHARLES JOSEPH EUGÈNE DE, ST.
Also known as Eugène de Mazenod, bishop, founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate; b. Aug. 1, 1782, Aixen-Provence, France; d. May 21, 1861, Marseilles, France.
Mazenod was the son of the president of the Board of Excise in Provence, who belonged to the nobility of the robe. During the french revolution, he immigrated with his family in April 1791 to Nice, Turin, Venice, and Palermo without being able to undertake regular studies. He returned to France in 1802 and decided, after a grave personal religious crisis, to become a priest. During his three years at Saint-Sulpice seminary, he was profoundly influenced by Msgr. Emery and participated in the Catholic resistance in favor of Pius VII and the black cardinals. Upon returning to Aix after ordination in 1811, the young priest devoted himself to ministering to the poor and to an association for youths.
In 1817, he became interested in popular missions. To promote them he founded a community that was the
germ of the oblates of mary immaculate. When his uncle, Fortuné de Mazenod, became bishop of Marseilles in 1823, he made Charles his vicar-general. Mazenod became a titular bishop in 1832 and succeeded his uncle as bishop in 1837. During these years Mazenod devoted himself to the restoration and reorganization of the diocese, while acting as superior general of his missionary institute, which received the approval of the Holy See in 1826.
Mazenod played a very active role also in the religious affairs of France and in 1856 became a senator of the Second Empire. In Marseilles he confronted difficult spiritual and material problems created by the changed economic and social situation in the city, whose population had doubled. The bishop established the structures used in the diocese for the next half-century and more. He created 22 parishes, rebuilt the cathedral, Notre-Dame de la Garde, and 25 other churches, increased clerical recruitment, and promoted religious congregations. The most celebrated of the societies inaugurated by him was Timon David for young workers.
Membership in the Oblates remained small until 1843 and then grew rapidly when Mazenod began to accept missions in Canada, U.S., Ceylon, and South Africa. In these lands the Oblate apostolate bore remarkable results.
Mazenod was an ardent ultramontane but displayed moderation in the controversies concerning the classics, the liturgy, Gallicanism, and liberalism. He supported Hugues Félicité de Lamennais in Rome to the end. On the other had, he was intransigent and resolute concerning educational freedom and the Roman Question.
Upon his death in 1861 he was buried in the cathedral of Marseilles. Mazenod's cause was introduced in Rome in 1936. He was beatified on Oct. 19, 1975, and canonized by John Paul II on Dec. 3, 1995. He is the patron of bishops, broken homes, dysfunctional families, evangelizers and missionaries, exiles, families in crisis, founders, those struggling with their vocations, and troubled marriages.
Feast: May 21 (Oblates of Mary Immaculate).
Bibliography: Lettres aux correspondants d'Amérique (Rome 1977). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 68 (1976) 241–243. Beatificationis et canonizationis servi Dei Caroli Iosephi Eugenii de Mazenod (Rome 1968). l. n. boutin, Le double charisme du bien-heureux Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod (Montréal 1978). r. etchegaray, Petite vie de Eugène de Mazenod (Paris 1995). a. hubenig, Living in the Spirit's Fire (Toronto 1995). j. leflon, Eugène de Mazenod, évèque de Marseille, fondateur des missionaires oblats de Marie Immaculée, 3 v. (Paris 1957–65), Eng. tr. f. d. flanagan (Washington, D.C. 1994). s. c. lorit, La scelta dei poveri: vita di Eugenio de Mazenod (Rome 1975). L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed., 44 (1975): 6–7; 49 (1995): 1–2. a. roche, Le Bienheureux Eugène de Mazenod: Évêque de Marseille, fondateur des mission-naires oblats de Marie-Immaculée (Lyon 1975). g. santolini, Evangelizzazione e missione (Bologna 1984).