Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saint John Baptist Vianney

St John Baptist Vianney, the Cure of Ars (1786-1859)
My all-time favorite Saint is not just the patron saint of priests, but also the patron saint of all those who find learning and going to school tough and hard. The Cure of Ars’ life is itself a miracle. Jean-Marie Vianney was born on May 8, 1786, in the French town of Dardilly and was baptized the same day. His parents had six children of which Jean-Marie was the third. He grew up on his family's farm in a very devotional environment. His parents frequently helped the poor and gave hospitality to many pilgrims
By 1790, the French Revolution forced many loyal priests to hide from the government in order to carry out the sacraments in their parish. The Vianneys continued attending Mass, even though it was illegal. In order to attend Mass, they traveled to distant farms where they would pray in secret. Since the priests would risk their lives day by day, Jean-Marie began to look upon priests as heroes. During the Mass, the windows were covered so that the light of the candles could not be seen from the outside.
By 1802, peace was re-established, and Jean-Marie wanted to start studying, but he still had to serve in the army. He was 19 when he started school, while his classmates were all 11 or 12, but he persevered, even though he found the study of Latin very hard. He gave up many times, but he was eventually ordained a priest on August 13, 1815. He was sent as Assistant to his sponsor, Father Balley in the parish at Ecully. 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.

The body of St John Baptist Vianney, in the Basilica of Ars, France
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 tremendous 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 16 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.

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