This part of Marseille was built on the cliff of the mills and is the one of the oldest parts of Marseille. Here we find some of the remains of the ancient city. At the time of St Eugene it was inhabited by people who had very little. They also spoke Provencal dialect that limited their opportunities.
I was moved walking the narrow streets that always descend or ascend as I remembered that the same streets were walked by our first Oblates who served faithfully the people here. The laundry hanging from the windows isn’t different to what those Oblates saw. I reflected on Fr Mye with his old torn soutane and the pockets filled with lollies for the street children whom he met. There was also Fr Albini who worked with the Italian migrants who later died in Corsica, there was Fr Suzanne who was very close to St Eugene. Fr Suzanne’s commitment to Christ was as evident as his hard working. He didn’t spare himself that led to his death at the age of 30. Even extremely exhausted he was still available to the people of the Panier area. Fr Albini and Suzanne were regarded by the poor here as saints. St Eugene himself was seen here very often, as a priest and later as a bishop. The poor he considered his family and was always walking the narrow streets and visiting those who struggled to meet ends here.
Maybe the area doesn't look magnificent but I did feel like stepping into a holy temple as it was marked by the ministry of our First Fathers and it was also marked by the presence of the Lord who was brining hope and faith into the people of the Panier area of Marseille. I felt so unworthy to walk this Holy Ground of the Oblate beginnings.
Some photos of the Panier area where our First Oblates ministered to the poor