The Brave Never Die: A Story of Frederic Ozanam. Chapter 5

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoFrédéric OzanamLeave a Comment

Author: Brother Roberto, C.S.C. · Year of first publication: 1958.
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After his father’s death, Frederic had to care for his mother, who was no longer young or in good health. His younger brother, Charles, was in college and needed funds for his food, clothing and education. Doctor Ozanam had left very little money in his will since most of his fortune had been spent on the poor.

Frederic settled down in Lyons to practice law and thus support himself and what re­mained of his family. He continued to write and lecture. As the months passed, the fame of the young speaker and writer spread quickly, and one evening an important man came to visit him. The man was Mr. Soulacroix, Rector of the College of Lyons.

After he had introduced himself, the rector lost no time in coming to the point. “Mr. Oza­nam, we need a professor of Commercial Law at the College. With your fine training in law at Paris and your Doctor’s degree, I feel you are the best man for the position. Will you accept?”

Frederic smiled. “Mr. Soulacroix, I have a law practice here in the city, and a thriving new Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I have more than enough work already.”

“I know you do,” said the man, “but I also know that if one wishes to have a job done, he should ask the busiest man to do it. Then, he will be sure it will be done and done well. Will you accept the position? I shall pay you well for your services and you will have plenty of time after your lectures to continue your practice of law each day.”

“Your offer is very flattering,” Frederic admitted. “I accept it. I will have a chance to teach the young and at the same time, earn some extra money with which to support my family.”

The men shook hands and drew up plans for the future. “You must call at my home if you have any further questions about your new professorship, Frederic,” Mr. Soulacroix told him. “You will always be welcome there.”

As the young lawyer saw his guest to the door that evening, he little realized that in one such visit, he would meet his future wife. She was to be the daughter of Mr. Soulacroix!

Busy with his work for the poor through the new Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul So­ciety which he had founded in Lyons, and now fully taken up with preparations for law lectures, Frederic had little time to himself.

One of his greatest concerns was the failing health of his mother. After the sorrows of see­ing eleven of her children and then her husband die, she became more and more depressed and ill. Her work as a nurse for the poor weakened her even more and finally, two years after her husband’s death, she went quietly to meet him in heaven.

Heart-broken, Frederic now felt com­pletely alone in life. He was not happy in his work as a lawyer. He wished to spend his life teaching the young and writing for the sake of spreading the truth of the Church. Lacordaire wished him to become a Dominican monk, but Ozanam knew that such a vocation was not for him.

In his loneliness he went to visit Father Noirot, who before had helped him in his great temptations against faith. “What shall I do now that my mother is dead?” he asked. “I do not know where to turn for advice!”

“Why don’t you marry?” the priest asked.

Frederic laughed. “Who would want me?”

It was Father’s turn to laugh. “Many fine Catholic girls in Lyons would like to have you for a husband. You have been so busy with your nose in books for the past few years that you have not noticed them!”

“The woman I want for my wife must be interested in the poor and the sick, as my mother was,” Frederic mused. “She should be well-educated, kind and gentle. Do you know such a girl?”

The priest nodded. “Come with me this afternoon,” he suggested, “and I shall show you one with all the qualities you have mentioned.”

That afternoon Frederic was surprised to be led to the home of Mr. Soulacroix. “This is where my rector lives!” he exclaimed.

“Right!” the priest smiled. “Come in with me, please.”

The guests were warmly greeted by Mr. Soulacroix and as they sat visiting in his parlor, Frederic caught sight of his lovely daughter, Amelia, in the next room. She was bent over a sick man, who lay on a bed in great pain. Her hands moved quickly to place cool cloths on his fevered forehead, and she was so occupied with her work of charity that she did not even notice the visitors.

Frederic was deeply moved at the sight of the young woman. When he- was once more alone with Father Noirot, he told the priest how impressed he was with her beauty, her tender­ness and her good manners.

“Call on her again, Fred,” the priest sug­gested. “She would make a wonderful wife for you!”

Frederic did call on her, and as the weeks passed into months, the two young people found in each other all the qualities they wished their partner in marriage to have. They fell deeply in love and at last were engaged to be married.

>: On June 23, 1841, Frederic led the beauti­ful Amelia to the altar of the church of St. Nizier and there before his brother, Father Alphonse, married her. He had never known such hap­piness.

The bride and groom honeymooned in Italy, were granted a private audience by the pope, and visited all the cities dear to Ozanam’s romantic heart.

When the newlyweds returned to Lyons, they had to decide where to establish their home. Amelia’s parents begged them to settle in Lyons.

“You have many friends here,” the rector said. “Besides your professorship in law, I want you to take over a professorship in literature. With the two, you will be able to support your­self well and you will be able to give up your practice of law which you have found so dull.” “But I have also received an offer to become professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne in Paris,” Frederic said. “Paris holds all the best, young minds of France. I am sure I could do more for the Church there than I could here.”

“But how much money would you make and where would you live?” Mrs. Soulacroix wanted to know.

“I need only enough money to support Amelia and the children we hope God will send us.”

After much discussion, it was decided that Amelia should choose the city in which they would make their home.

“It is Paris that will be best for your career as a teacher, a writer and a friend of the poor,” she said after some thought. “The headquarters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is there. The best minds of France are there. You must go to Paris, and I shall go with you.”

The matter was decided and the young couple lost little time in preparing to move to the capital. As the stage coach rattled and bounced along over the rough road from Lyons to Paris, Frederic was seized by violent attacks of coughing.

“Have you a cold, darling?” his wife asked.

Frederic shook his head and tried to smile. “I have these spells every now and then, dear,” he said carelessly.

What the young husband was trying to hide from his pretty wife was the fact that he was suffering from tuberculosis. As a result of it, only twelve years of happy married life re­mained for the young couple. But those years were to be so full of love and good works that they would be equal to a long and fruitful lifetime.

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