St. John Vianney, (Patron of priests) Feast Day - August 4. Universally known as the "Cure of Ars."
Let us reflect on the life of St. John Mary Vianney, patron of priests. St. John was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, hence his particular interest
St John Mary Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815.
Three years later he was made parish priest of Ars, a remote French hamlet, where his reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him known throughout the Christian world. His life was one of extreme mortification.
Accustomed to the most severe austerities, beleaguered by swarms of penitents, and besieged by the devil, this great mystic manifested a imperturbable patience. He was a wonder worker loved by the crowds, but he retained a childlike simplicity, and he remains to this day the living image of the priest after the heart of Christ.
He heard confessions of people from all over the world for the sixteen hours each day. His life was filled with works of charity and love. It is recorded that even the staunchest of sinners were converted at his mere word. He died August 4, 1859, and was canonized May 31, 1925.
St John Mary Vianney was born into a peasant family in the small town of
A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. St John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meagre formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.
His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, the saint was ordained.
Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, St John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)
With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.
His work as a confessor is St John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.
Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But St John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.
Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.
Recommending liturgical prayer, St John Vianney would say, “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”