10.3.08

Le Curé D'Ars

On May 31, 1925, Pope Pius XI canonized Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney, and proclaimed him to be the Patron Saint of Parish Priests worldwide. Years later, Pope John XXIII proclaimed him a role model for all priests to emulate. He is often referred to, even in English, as the "Curé D’ Ars" (the Pastor of Ars). His Feast Day is August 4th.

St. John Vianney was born in 1786 to poor farmers in Dardilly, a small farmer’s village north of Lyons, France. He worked as a shepherd until the age of 18 when he began training for the priesthood. He was a poor student, had difficulty learning Latin, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. But his love and devotion to Jesus Christ saw him through. He was finally ordained at the age of 29, and was placed under the direction of Father Balley, a holy priest in a neighboring village, for further training. When Father Balley died in 1817, Father Vianney was named the Parish Priest of Ars.

He worked for twenty-five years in his parish. During his time there, he founded an orphanage for girls, and became internationally famous for his priestly and pastoral care. St. John was given many spiritual gifts, such as the power of healing and the ability to read the hearts of his penitents. It was this latter gift that caused his fame to spread throughout France, and created large crowds seeking his guidance. The frail Curé began hearing confessions at 1 o'clock in the morning, and it has been reported that he spent from 13 to 17 hours a day in the cramped confessional. Saint John Vianney died peacefully on August 4, 1859. When his body was exhumed due to impending beatification, it was found perfectly preserved. Later the Saint’s heart was removed and remains a venerated relic.

The Saint's body is laid in the Chapel of the Reliquary in a new basilica which is attached to the original Parish of Ars Church in Ars, France. A special chapel was erected to receive the miraculously incorrupt Heart of the Curé of Ars.

Once again I borrow from and redirect to Laudem Gloriae.

Le Curé D'Ars

St. Jean Marie Vianney’s life spanned a period of incredible turmoil, a time that saw no less than seven revolutions: born just before the Terror, he lived through the First Republic, the First Empire under Napoleon, the restoration of the House of Bourbon under Louis XVIII and Charles X, the July Monarchy that placed Louis Philippe d’Orléans on the throne, the Second Republic, and finally, the Second Empire under Napoleon III. Much of this political upheaval must have seemed very distant, however, to this priest in his country parish, whose days were spent confined within the walls of his confessional counseling and absolving the thousands who came to him.

The first official biography of the saint was written by Monsignor Trochu, published in France in 1925. I had the good fortune to read this inspiring work before our little pilgrimage to Ars. I translate portions below:


It was in the saddest days of 1794, a small distance from a suburb in Lyon called Dardilly. A troop of children amused themselves in a glen in Chante-Merle, a verdant crease between two hills. But how was it that children’s games could still exist in an epoch when all seemed to breathe sadness and grief? There had been formerly on the pathways of Dardilly calvaries built by pious forebears; destroyed on order of the revolutionary proconsul of Lyon, the famous Fouché, the crosses lay in the grass. The closed church was without a priest, without Mass, without the Eucharist; the tabernacle lamp no longer shone in the profaned sanctuary, the clock no longer rang… Yet the children were happy!more

Remercie Christine.

Vive Le Roy...
de Brantigny

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