St John Vianney (Le Curé D’Ars)
Saint John Vianney was born in 1786 to a poor family. He had little to no schooling because his father needed him to work the plows on the family farm. He had difficulty entering the seminary as it was revealed he had could not learn Latin and all the courses were in Latin. He received private tutoring and was eventually ordained in 1815.
Father Vianney ministered his entire life in Ars. When he first stepped foot in the parish, he dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. St John Paul II would do the same on every first visit he made to a country as Pope. St. John Vianney’s big heart enfolded the small town within itself. His pastoral goal was to ensure that all residents of Ars go to Mass every single Sunday. To implement his plan, he acquainted himself with everyone, fasted and prayed, taught, and heard multiple hours of confessions every day. And he incessantly preached about the fires of hell.
Crowds of people started coming to Ars just ten years into his time there. The nearest large city, Lyon, added trains to and from Ars to accommodate the crowds. Father Vianney himself was the destination of these pilgrimages, not Ars. People were being healed physically. It was said Father Vianney could read souls, see into the future, and prophecy.
His greatest gift was his own example of holiness. His wisdom in the confessional was so sought after, the lines seeking his counsel so long, that he was made a prisoner of that sacramental box. Near the end of his life, people grabbed at his cassock to obtain a relic. And the night he finally succumbed to his pastoral burdens and died, the simple faithful stripped the bark from the trees in front of his rectory just to have a small chunk of something the holy man had looked at, or which his shadow had darkened. Father Vianney converted his parish one soul at a time using the perennial tools of the Church: prayer, fasting, the sacraments, and preaching.
St. John Vianney became known as the Cure D’Ars and is the patron of priests.