A heart as big as the world.

Eugene de Mazenod was born into a noble family of Aix-en-Provence in southern France in 1782, but his family had to flee as refugees during the French Revolution. In 1802 he returned to France and embraced a frivolous social life. However, on Good Friday 1807, before the crucifix in a church in Aix, the young man experienced a profound conversion that made him understand the spiritual and material plight of France and the Church. Within a year he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1811.

Father de Mazenod set about rebuilding a world of Christian values. He preached in villages with passion, tirelessly bringing the Word of God and the sacraments to all, visiting prisoners and offering the poor a renewed sense of dignity. In 1816 other priests, inspired by his vision and energy, joined him and in 1826 the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was formally approved by Pope Leo XII. De Mazenod, deemed to have had ‘a heart as big as the world’, sent his growing corps of Oblates to mission in Canada, Sri Lanka, South Africa and in various parts of Europe.

Bishop Eugene de Mazenod died on May 21, 1861 and the Church recognised his life of dedication, virtue and outreach to the most abandoned when, on December 3, 1995, Pope John Paul II officially declared him a saint. More than 3,700 Oblate priests and brothers, supported by many Oblate Lay Associates, continue to mission on every continent of the world. His charism lives on in them.

You can find out more about St Eugene's biography timeline on the OMI World website, using the button below.

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