In the course of the Napoleonic wars, Napoleon waged war at various times with the forces of Austria. Many soldiers were taken prisoner. In 1814, several European armies marched upon Paris which surrendered. In January-February, before abdicating, Napoleon sent the Pope back to Rome or to Italy and the cardinals as well. He concentrated the prisoners of war in the Midi of France.
That is how it happened that two thousand Austrian soldiers arrived in Aix. Typhoid fever broke out in the barracks into which they were crammed and their chaplain died. Abbé de Mazenod obtained permission from the vicar capitular to take the place of the chaplain. He too fell ill. He took to his bed on March 10, 1814 and received Extreme Unction on March 14. Little by little, he recovered and began to celebrate Mass on April 20. The youth of the Confraternity of Christian Youth prayed a great deal for his recovery. In their presence, on May 3, he celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the church of the Saint Mary Magdalene.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Diary of the Youth Congregation of Aix, Oblate Writings I, vol. 16, p. 139-143.
LEFLON, Jean, Eugene de Mazenod, I, New York, 1961, trans. Francis D. Flanagan, o.m.i., p. 421-424.