Tuesday, August 04, 2009

St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars

Today is the Feast day of St. John Marie Vianney, the Patron Saint of Diocesan priests. There is an expectation that at the end of the Year of the Priest that he will be named the Patron of all priests.

He was born near Lyon, France in 1786. He was not the brightest student mainly due to a lack of exposure to academics rather than being unintelligent. He did, however, struggle with his Latin studies. With the help of the Lord, he overcame these obstacles and became the parish priest in the small hamlet of Ars. The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The chief labor of the Curé d'Ars was the direction of souls. He had not been long at Ars when people began coming to him from other parishes, then from distant places, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. As early as 1835, his bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of "the souls awaiting him yonder". During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. The most distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy curé and hearing his daily instruction…His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. His instructions were simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes, but breathing faith and that love of God which was his life principle and which he infused into his audience as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible.

The miracles recorded by his biographers are of three classes:

  • first, the obtaining of money for his charities and food for his orphans;
  • secondly, supernatural knowledge of the past and future;
  • thirdly, healing the sick, especially children.

The greatest miracle of all was his life. He practiced mortification from his early youth. and for forty years his food and sleep were insufficient, humanly speaking, to sustain life. And yet he labored incessantly, with unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness, until he was more than seventy-three years old.

Otten, Susan Tracy. "St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 4 Aug. 2009 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08326c.htm.

He was said to sleep only 2 hours a night and live on potatoes that he would cook as his meal but also to keep him warm. The devil attacked him continuously even setting his bed on fire.

We had the blessing of going to Ars to see this holy man. In that pilgrimage, we had gone to Lourdes, also. Ars was my favorite. It was a very holy place. I find myself drawn to this simple country priest.

Thought you might like some of the pictures we took:


A Chapel beside the church which contains the heart of the Saint.


St. John Vianney’s bed that the devil set on fire.


The Body of the Saint.

St. John Vianney, please pray for all priests and those considering the vocation. We need holy priests such as you to give us the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Confession…

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