Title: Romantic Catholics: Frédéric and Amélie Ozanam, Marriage, and the Catholic Social Vocation
Speaker: Carol Harrison, Ph.D. professor of History at the University of South Carolina. Author of the book: Romantic Catholics: France’s Post-revolutionary Generation in Search of a Modern Faith.
Marriage to Amélie Soulacroix in 1841 transformed Frédéric Ozanam’s sense of his obligations to the society in which he lived. The sacrament of marriage in general and the particular marital relationship that Amélie and Frédéric developed were central to his understanding of the Catholic social vocation. The younger Ozanam valued fraternal ties among male friends above all, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, founded in 1836, reflected this attachment to an egalitarian world of bachelor men. As Amélie’s husband, however, Frédéric came to see society as analogous to the family and he perceived his obligations to society as parallel those he owed his family: love, respect, and care for the weak. Ozanam carried this mature view of society into the Revolution of 1848, and it informed his confidence that French Catholics could participate in the work of the new republic by directing it toward a social mission that drew on charitable traditions infused with a modern sense of justice and democracy.