Wisdom of Bishop Myriel: Expenses

M. Myriel had no property, his family having been ruined by the Revolution. His sister was in receipt of a yearly income of five hundred francs, which sufficed for her personal wants at the vicarage. M. Myriel received from the State, in his quality of bishop, a salary of fifteen thousand francs. On the very day when he took up his abode in the hospital, M. Myriel settled on the disposition of this sum once for all, in the following manner. We transcribe here a note made by his own hand:—
NOTE ON THE REGULATION OF MY HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES.

For the little seminary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,500 livres
Society of the mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 ”
For the Lazarists of Montdidier . . . . . . . . . . 100 ”
Seminary for foreign missions in Paris . . . . . . 200 ”
Congregation of the Holy Spirit . . . . . . . . . . 150 ”
Religious establishments of the Holy Land . . . . . 100 ”
Charitable maternity societies . . . . . . . . . . 300 ”
Extra, for that of Arles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 ”
Work for the amelioration of prisons . . . . . . . 400 ”
Work for the relief and delivery of prisoners . . . 500 ”
To liberate fathers of families incarcerated for debt 1,000 ”
Addition to the salary of the poor teachers of the
diocese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000 ”
Public granary of the Hautes-Alpes . . . . . . . . 100 ”
Congregation of the ladies of D——, of Manosque, and of
Sisteron, for the gratuitous instruction of poor
girls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,500 ”
For the poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000 ”
My personal expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,000 ”
———
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000 ”

M. Myriel made no change in this arrangement during the entire period that he occupied the see of D—— As has been seen, he called it regulating his household expenses.

-Victor Hugo
Of that $1,000 he kept “for himself,” 1/2 paid for his housekeeper.

Do you think you could live off of 3% of your income and tithe the other 97% (presuming, of course, you had your own house, cows and garden provided for)?

When informed that he is entitled to a travel budget from the government, the Bishop willingly accepts it (which elicits scoffs from atheist officials, who think that the supposedly saintly bishop has started to show his “true colors”):

That same evening the Bishop wrote out and handed to his sister a memorandum conceived in the following terms:—
EXPENSES OF CARRIAGE AND CIRCUIT.

For furnishing meat soup to the patients in the hospital. 1,500 livres
For the maternity charitable society of Aix . . . . . . . 250 ”
For the maternity charitable society of Draguignan . . . 250 ”
For foundlings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 ”
For orphans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 ”
——-
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 ”

Such was M. Myriel’s budget.

He dined on toast and milk (from his own cows) for most meals, and soup or vegetables for supper. The only time he served meat or fish was when another priest visited.

With that exception, his ordinary diet consisted only of vegetables boiled in water, and oil soup. Thus it was said in the town, when the Bishop does not indulge in the cheer of a cure, he indulges in the cheer of a trappist.

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