Saint John Mary Vianney
August 4 is the feast of St. John Mary Vianney (also known as Saint Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney). He is such a special saint and a dear friend to me that one post hardly seems enough to describe the many virtues of this holy man. He was a gentle, charitable, humble, faithful and obedient French country priest who is the patron saint of priests and confessors.
John Vianney was born May 8, 1786 in the village of Dardilly in France. The son of a poor farmer, he worked as a shepherd on the farm in his youth and taught other children their prayers and catechism. He did not receive any formal education until he was 20 years old.
While a student he was called for military service, and became a delinquent military recruit due to illness, and hid to escape Napoleon’s police. As a seminarian, he had difficulty learning Latin, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. He was finally ordained at the age of 30, but was thought to be so incompetent that he was placed under the direction of Fr. Balley, a holy priest in a neighboring village, for further training.
Fr. John Vianney was assigned to Ars, a tiny remote village near Lyons, which suffered from poor attendance. He spent almost forty-two years of his life as the Cure (Pastor) of Ars, devoting himself to prayer, mortification, and pastoral works. He preached in a very simple manner, had a great love of the Blessed Sacrament, and a special devotion the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as St. Philomena.
The Cure of Ars lived an austere life, ate only potatoes, and learned to keep suspended by a rope from the ceiling, so the rats wouldn’t get to them. He allowed himself two hours of sleep each night and was frequently interrupted by the devil, who assaulted him with deafening noises, insulting conversation, and physical abuse. These diabolical visitations were occasionally witnessed with alarm by the men of the parish, but the pious He accepted the attacks as a matter of course and often joked about them. The frail Cure began hearing confessions at 1 o’clock in the morning, and spent from 14 to 18 hours a day in the cramped confessional. Crowds flocked to the confessional because of his remarkable reputation with penitents, and many came to hear him preach. By 1855, there were 20,000 pilgrims a year traveling to Ars.
His success in directing souls made him known throughout the Christian world. Men of all ranks and conditions of life sought his guidance, including bishops and aristocracy, who made the journey to Ars in order to receive his spiritual counsel. Through his work, he brought about a spiritual renewal that touched not only the people of his parish but all of France.
His success in directing souls made him known throughout the Christian world. Men of all classes sought his spiritual direction, including bishops and aristocracy, who made the journey to Ars. Through his work, he brought about a spiritual renewal that touched not only the people of his parish but all of France.
Thus, St. John Vianney was a man who started his life as one who very few thought would ever amount to anything, but gave God permission to use him as the vessel for thousands of conversions. He is, for us today, an example of how God works wonderfully through those who dedicate their lives to him and who seek to do his will. John Vianney, a humble parish priest is regarded by the Church as one of its great figures simply because he was humble, faithful, and obedient.
St. John Vianney died peacefully on August 4, 1859. His body was exhumed because of his impending beatification, and was found perfectly entire. He was beatified by Pope St. Pius X, himself once a parish priest, and canonized by Pope Pius XI. St. John Vianney is the only diocesan priest to be canonized and is the patron saint of parish priests.
My Favorite John Vianney Quotes
“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”
“I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures.”
“Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains.”
“Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”
“Man is a beggar who needs to ask God for everything.”
“When our hands have touched spices, they give fragrance to all they handle. Let us make our prayers pass through the hands of the Blessed Virgin. She will make them fragrant.”
“All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone – for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good.”
“You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.”
“Upon receiving Holy Communion, the Adorable Blood of Jesus Christ really flows in our veins and His Flesh is really blended with ours.”
“We should consider those moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament as the happiest of our lives.”
“I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master.”
“If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of man. The miser would run no more after his treasures, or the ambitious after glory; each would shake off the dust of the earth, leave the world, and fly away towards heaven.”
“When we go before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open His. We shall go to Him; He will come to us; the one to ask, the other to receive. It will be like a breath from one to the other.”
“Christian wife! Follow in the footsteps of the ideal of all womanhood, the Blessed Mother of God; in joy and in sorrow, she will be your advocate at the throne of her Son.”
Prayer for Seminarians and Parish Priests
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You. I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
~St. John Vianney, the Cure d’ Ars