Feast Day: 4 August
St John Vianney, the “Curé D’Ars,” is the patron saint of priests and parish clergy. His feast day is 4 August, the day you should also pray for your parish priest.
St John Vianney’s life is ever an inspiration. He was born into a peasant family in the small town of Dardilly on 8 May 1786. His family was poor in material possessions but rich in humanity and in faith. He was the son of a peasant farmer, and a slow and unpromising candidate for the priesthood: he was eventually ordained on account of his devoutness rather than any achievement or promise.
Baptised on the day of his birth, as was the good custom in those days, he spent so many years of his childhood and adolescence working in the fields and tending the flocks that at the age of 17 he was still illiterate. Nonetheless he knew by heart the prayers his devout mother had taught him and was nourished by the sense of religion in the atmosphere he breathed at home.
His biographers say that since his earthly youth he sought to conform himself to God’s will, even in the humblest offices. He pondered on his desire to become a priest, but it was far from easy for him to achieve it. Indeed, he arrived at priestly ordination only after many ordeals and misunderstandings, with the help of far-sighted priests who did not stop at considering his human limitations but looked beyond them and glimpsed the horizon of holiness that shone out in that truly unusual young man. So it was that on 23 June 1815 he was ordained a deacon and on the following 13 August, he was ordained a priest. At last, at the age of 29, after numerous uncertainties, quite a few failures and many tears, he was able to walk up to the Lord’s altar and make the dream of his life come true…
In 1818 he was sent to be the parish priest of Ars-en-Dombes, an isolated village some distance from Lyon, and remained there for the rest of his life because his parishioners would not let him leave. He was a noted preacher, and a celebrated confessor: such was his fame, and his reputation for insight into his penitents’ souls and their futures, that he had to spend up to eighteen hours a day in the confessional, so great was the demand. The tens of thousands of people who came to visit this obscure parish priest turned Ars into a place of pilgrimage.
The photo shows the incorrupt body of St John Vianney, enshrined in a great basilica in Ars-sur-Forman where he served as parish priest for 41 years.