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Friday, 29 September 2023
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St John Vianney


Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney was born in 1786 as the son of a poor farmer in the village of Dardilly, France. During his childhood he worked as a shepherd and didn't get any education until he was 20 years old.

John had always felt a call to the priesthood. His eventual entry into the seminary, especially the study of Latin, however proved to be very difficult and he twice failed his examination before finally being ordained as a priest in 1815. Thought to be incompetent, John was placed under the direction of another priest in the neighboring village. After the death of this priest in 1818, John was transferred to the remote tiny village of Ars to be the parish priest.

Here he lived a very ascetic life, ate the simplest food, wore old clothing and only slept two hours each night on a hard bed. The number of parishioners grew rapidly, as the word spread that this holy man could see into people's souls. People began coming to him from other parishes, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. Throughout France and the Christian world he soon became known as the "curé d'Ars" (the curé of Ars).

By the year 1855, Fr. Vianney was hearing as many as 20,000 confessions a year, spending 13 to 16 hours a day in the confessional. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. As the news continued to spread, the sick were brought to Ars and many were miraculously cured.

During 30 years, Fr. Vianney claimed to experience frequent attacks of the devil. Voices, strange noises, threats, furniture being thrown about and many other demonic assaults took place almost every night. Besides all this external suffering, Fr. Vianney had physical ailments such as severe headaches, rheumatism, toothaches, fever and exhaustion.

The heroic self-sacrifice of Fr. Vianney eventually led to his death. At the age of 73 he began to have fainting spells. By the end of July he could no longer rise from his bed. Four days later on August 4, 1859, Fr. Vianney died.

Fr. Vianney was declared Venerable 13 years after his death. In 1904 when his body was exhumed it was found to be incorrupt, although the flesh had dried up and darkened. To this day the incorrupt body can be seen, encased in glass on a marble Altar, in Ars. In 1905 Fr. Vianney was declared Blessed. And finally in 1925 he became Saint John Marie Vianney.
(excerpt from
The Year of Priests Patron of Parishes
St Jean Marie Vianney