This as far as I remember it is what Fr. Bard1, cure of St. Christophe in the canton of La Mure has told me and others before me of this sad day:
“In the morning around 10 o’clock I met Fr. Eymard. He hadn’t yet said Mass. We went to reserve two places for La Mure. Father invited the coachman to lunch with him after the Mass which he was going to say at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Grenoble.
Father said the Mass without any obvious trouble or weakness. I served it. After Mass, he wanted to go to the hotel for lunch as had been planned. But he felt tired, barely able to stand.2 The fathers made him rest while awaiting the coach.
Father got up in time, we got on the coach and left. Father became taciturn, answered only in monosyllables. At every stop, however, he got off, took some air, some refreshments and remounted the coach alone with reasonable vigour. On reaching the area of Villard, my parish, seeing that there was nothing obviously serious, and believing that this silence was only the result of the ordinary tiredness of the journey, I offered to accompany Fr. Eymard to La Mure.
On one hand, I had left the previous evening a very sick person whom I needed to visit. I hesitated until Father told me to go and see the sick person and thanked me affectionately for the small kindnesses I had done for him. I asked the coachman to keep a watch now and again that nothing was happening. He promised to drive the horses gently and to take care of Fr. Julien.
Father (Nanette told me) arrived at La Mure around 7 or 8 o’clock. We ran, me first, to the Pelloux, where the coach had stopped. We didn’t have to wait for Father – he got off the coach, I embraced him, he didn’t say a word to me, and while I took his bag, he walked ahead holding his coat in his hand and his umbrella over his arm. He forgot his hat. I went to get it. His sister arrived, not a word either. However, we didn’t suspect the gravity of the illness. We thought it was tiredness like had often happened him before.
But the next day we were disabused.
The Doctor was fearful. Wednesday 22 July was bad. His mouth was all twisted from right to left. The Parish Priest came to see Father who made his Confession.
Thursday (23 July), was not much better.
Friday (24 July) things were a bit better and we wrote to you.25 July the improvement continued. The nights were alternating between good and bad.”
This text is transcribed from a copy preserved in the Archives of the French Province in Paris. The Punctuation has been slightly adjusted for ease of reading.
The copy from the Paris archive has as its title, in Fr. J. Lavigne’s writing, “Notes of very Rev. Fr. Tesniere (Bro. Albert) on the last days of Blessed Peter Julian Eymard”.