Friday, November 14, 2008

St. Jean Marie-Baptiste Vianney

My patron saint for next year, 2009, is St. John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars.

Angela, at Where Angels Go, has taken on the task of assigning saints to her readers again this year. She chose St. Anthony Mary Claret for me last year, and I've loved having him close this year. I'm looking forward to getting to know St. John Vianney in the same way.

St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests. God used him in a marvelous way to bring thousands of people to Himself. Despite his lack of a good formal education, St. John struggled through Seminary and was finally ordained a priest.

He was sent to Ars, a remote French village with only 40 homes and 4 taverns. The people there were living lives removed from God, but after some time, because of St. John, they became devout. He visited every family, helping them whenever he could, talking with them, using everyday examples in the lessons he taught them. His three hour sermons spoke to their hearts. People would come from miles around to hear him, and to go to confession.

St. John lived a penitential life, eating very little food and sleeping only a few hours each night. A villager peeking in his window said that he prayed all night. He sold the nice furniture in the rectory and used the money for the poor.

By the end of his life, St. John would stay in the confessional for hours, sometimes up to 18 hours a day, to accommodate the lines of people waiting for him to hear their confessions. He had the gift of knowing which sins people were omitting from their confession. He was sometimes able to convert sinners with only a few words to them. During his last years, thousands came from all over the world to hear him speak and hear their confessions.

St. John Vianney was ordained May 31, 1925. His miracles fell into three categories--obtaining money for charity and food for orphans, supernatural knowledge of the past and future, and healing the sick, especially children.

I spite of many difficulties, the envy of other priests, the scorn and ridicule of parishioners who didn't want changes in the parish, the vandalism of his home and rumors spread about him, his nightly battles with the devil, St. John continued in his calm, patient, faithful way to serve his people and live the life God had called him to.

He died at Ars on August 4, 1859. St. John Vianney's incorrupt body is entombed above the main altar in the Basilica at Ars, France.

Here is Pope John Paul II's Encyclical, Message on the Cure d'Ars. He believed St. John Vianney to be the perfect example for priests.

Almighty and merciful God, in Saint John Vianney You have given us a Priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. Through his intercession help us to win men for Christ and together with them attain eternal glory.

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