At the very origin of the foundation of the foundation of the Society of the Blessed Sacrament, we see Fr. Eymard’s concern to associate non-religious members to his Institute, priests as well as lay faithful. In the memorandum which he addressed in October 1857 to Cardinal Morlot, Archbishop of Paris, he listed among the members of the Society:
3. The Associates. There are two types of aggregation:
1) The aggregation of priests/…/
2) The lay aggregation composed of faithful living in the world and who wish to be united with the Society in a fraternal bond and share its goal1.
In the notice on the Society of the Blessed Sacrament which he printed in April 1859, he referred to the Aggregation:
- The associates participate as usual in the merits and indulgences of the Society.
- To become a member of the Aggregation, one must be received by the Superior of the Society or by a delegate.
- The duties of associates are:
- to participate in the exercise of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament;
In fact it was the creation of the Marseilles community that gave publicity to the Aggregation while assuring at the same time its canonical stability. As we have seen, nothing was spared to assure the insertion of this foundation into the diocese. The request of Fr. Eymard answered the dreams of Bishop de Mazenod, who gave his full attention to this community, since it corresponded to his desire to begin in Marseilles the work of perpetual adoration.
The religious community had been established on November 9, 1859. For eight days Fr. Eymard had given to the faithful a Eucharistic retreat, initiating them in the spirit and practice of adoration. On the last day of the octave, November 17, Bishop de Mazenod canonically erected the Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament and inscribed his own name at the top of the register of associates. By the hundreds, and later by the thousands, the faithful of this Phoenician city followed the example of their Bishop. At the end of 1861, almost three thousand had been inscribed. The Work “radiated throughout Marseilles”2.
Quoted from Fr. André Guitton, Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist, Centro Eucaristico Ponteranica 1996, p. 164-166.
1 Statuts de la Société du Très Saint-Sacrement (texte « Morlot »), octobre 1857 (RR 15,5; VII,91).
2 A Virginie Danion, 25 février 1862 (CO 1099 ; III,529).