Adolph Tavernier was born at Aix on October 30, 1799, son of Marie Marguerite Huard and Joseph Alexandre, a printer and receiver (one of the administrators) of the houses of refuge in Aix. Adolph was admitted to the confraternity of the Youth of Aix at the beginning of 1814 at fifteen years of age and officially became a member on November 21, 1814. He functioned in several posts of responsibility: vice-prefect, prefect, doorkeeper and infirmarian, assessor, secretary, promoter, etc. A brilliant student at the lyceum of Aix, in his last year of studies in 1815, he was awarded the prize for excellence, the first prize for translation and the second in Latin oratory.
He was very much attached to Father de Mazenod and from 1818 to 1821, he wrote him sixteen letters in which one can see the keen affection he bears Father de Mazenod and sometimes flashes of jealousy. The thirteen responses from the Founder during this same period are more sober, but they too bear the stamp of a deep affection and trust.
Adolph became a lawyer. He dedicated to Father de Mazenod his doctoral thesis in the faculty of law in Aix. Father de Mazenod was present for the first case counsellor Tavernier pleaded before the court of appeals of Aix and, on December 27, 1823, he blessed his marriage with Marie Honorine Bernard, the daughter of a lawyer. Mr. Tavernier was named as a member of the Aix Academy in 1840 and he died on May 7, 1882.
After his departure for Marseilles in 1823, Father de Mazenod continued to correspond occasionally with Adolph and consulted with him as a lawyer for several cases: the purchase of the Coûteron house in 1836, the Vèze affair which went through the courts in Aix in 1838, the will of Brother Morandini in 1838, the inheritance left by Mrs. de Bausset in 1839, the marriage of Césarie Boisgelin in 1845, in 1846, debts incurred by President de Mazenod towards Mr. Périer. In this regard, Bishop de Mazenod wrote on May 29, 1846: “I inherited nothing from my Father. Consequently, I owe nothing,” and on September 20, he added: “I recognize as personal debts only those I have incurred myself.”
In 1872, M. Tavernier published the work Quelques souvenirs sur Mgr Charles Eugène de Mazenod (95 pages) in which he published his correspondence with Father de Mazenod from 1818 to 1821. At the beginning of the work, he wrote: It was Abbé de Mazenod “who guided my first steps in life and who introduced me to the attractiveness of virtue through his example and his lessons. His memory relives in my mind full of freshness and unction, now at the end of my days, just as at the first moments of my existence. Nothing has faded from my memory. I see him still with his outstanding qualities of spirit, his lofty personality, his penetrating look, his noble and distinguished manners and his generous heart. I still see before my eyes his manly virtue, his bent to seek what is good, his affectionate forbearance and the enthralling aspects of his soul that knew so well how to offer tender love. I can still hear his eloquent speech and, after many long years, I experience again the emotions they stirred up in me. I see him especially intent on his work with the youth, gathering them around him, seeking to introduce them to the study of and developing a taste for religious truth.”
Mr. Tavernier paid a visit to Bishop de Mazenod shortly before May 21, 1861. He ended his work with these words: Bishop de Mazenod “was for me, in this moment of crisis, what he had always been during my life. I withdrew with tears steaming down my face, offering homage to this great soul who was taking its leave of me, and I felt that a part of me was being irrevocably extinguished never to live again here on earth, but rather in the heavens and from there to watch over those it had loved here below.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Correspondence and diary of Bishop de Mazenod in Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, 10 and 16-21, passim.