Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Saint Jean Vianney (the Curé of Ars) – Feast Day – August 4

Saint Jean Vianney was born with the name Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney. He was born on May 8 1786 in Dardilly, Lyon, in France and died on August 4 1859 (aged 73) in Ars-sur-Formans, Ain, in Eastern France at the age of 73 years. He is often referred to as the “Curé d’Ars” (the parish priest of Ars). His feast day is celebrated on August 4 every year in the Catholic Church.

Saint Jean Vianney Biography
Saint Jean Vianney
Saint Jean Vianney
Date of Birth May 8 1786
Place of Birth Dardilly, Lyon, in France
Profession French Parish Priest
Place of Work Ars-sur-Formans, Ain, France
Date of Death August 4 1859
Place of Death Ars-sur-Formans, Ain, France
Feast Day August 4
Beatification By Pope Pius X on January 8 1905 in Vatican City
Canonization By Pope Pius XI on May 31 1925 in Vatican City
Patron Saint of
  • Parish priests
  • Confessors
  • Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney
  • Archdiocese of Dubuque
  • Archdiocese of Kansas City

Saint Jean Vianney, Priest Life History

Saint Jean Vianney (St John Vianney) was baptized on the same day he was born on May 8 1786 and took the name Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney. His father was called Matthieu Vianney and his mother was called Marie (Belize). He was the fourth born of six children. The Vianney family was a very pious family of devout Catholics who had a passion of helping the poor. It is said that in 1770, his grandparents provided Saint Benedict Joseph Labre a place to stay when he was on his pilgrimage to Rome.

Around the year 1790, the French Revolution had taken a toll on religious institutions. Many Bishops, priests, and religious congregations had gone into hiding because they had been declared illegal. Nonetheless, masses and religious sacraments continued to be celebrated in secret away from the authorities. The Vianneys had to travel very long distances to the places where the hidden places where the priests celebrated mass.

Saint Jean Vianney realized that these priests risked their lives by celebrating these sacraments against the law and therefore viewed them as heroes. He underwent catechism in secret and also received his first Holy Communion and confirmation in secret.

When Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power he re-established the Catholic Church in France in 1902 and a religious peace returned to the country.

Saint Jean Vianney wanted so much to become a priest but without education, he would not achieve this. He, therefore, enrolled in a presbytery school nearby and was taught by an abbot named Balley. Although Vianney struggled with education, his desire to become a priest and Balley’s understanding pushed him not to quit.

Circumstances changed in 1809 when his studies were interrupted by Napoleon who required many young men to join his army in the battle against Spain. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he fell ill some few days before he was to report to his designated military camp. He was taken to the hospital and the rest of the military draft left without him. Once out of the hospital, Jean Vianney was added to another military draft but when he went to Church to pray, he was also left behind.

When he could not find his second military draft, Jean Vianney found a young man who would help him trace this draft. Instead of helping him find his draft, the young man took him deep inside the mountainous forest to a village called Les Noes where those who had deserted the army hid. Vianney hid there for fourteen months being taken care of by a widow with four children named Claudine Fayot. As a disguise, he assumed the name Jerome Vincent.

Good news came in March 1810 when an imperial proclamation was made to grant amnesty to all deserters. This gave Jean Vianney the opportunity to legally resume his studies. In 1811, he was tonsured and joined the minor seminary at Verrières-en-Forez in 1812. He, thereafter, joined the major seminary in Lyon in 1813.

Due to his interrupted education, Vianney was considered too slow to continue with the major seminary. He was returned to Abbot Balley. Since Abbot Balley knew Vianney’s call, he persuaded the major seminary’s rector to accommodate him back because Vianney’s piety and passion for the priesthood would compensate for his ignorance. The rector agreed and on August 12 1815 Saint Jean Vianney was ordained as a priest.

Curé d’Ars (Curé of Ars)

In 1818, Saint Jean Vianney was appointed the parish priest of the parish of Ars. Ars was a small town of around 230 inhabitants. On February 9 1818, Vianney got lost on the way as he was reporting to his parish in Ars. He was shown the right direction by two young shepherds tending flocks. In gratitude, he said to the two young men, “You have shown me the way to Ars, I will show you the way to Heaven”.

When he arrived at the parish in Ars, he found an old dilapidated Church and rectory as a result of the antireligious French Revolution. People there spent their Sundays in the fields and making merry in drinking taverns. People rarely came for mass but as time went by, more and more people began to come, even from nearby towns and beyond, because of Vianney’s great way of preaching, prayer and penance.

He converted almost all the residents of Ars even those who had never heard about God. They were always drawn to the Church by the message that Saint Jean Vianney delivered to them. He condemned vices like blasphemy, paganic dancing and drunkenness.

Saint Jean Vianney loved so much to be a priest and at one time while preaching he commented that “If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I would greet the priest first and then the angel”. He also used to say that, “the passion and death of Jesus would serve no purpose if there were no priests. What use is a treasure chest full of gold if there is no one who can unlock it? The priest has the key to the treasures of Heaven”.

Saint Jean Vianney and Confessions

Saint Jean Vianney was very passionate about confessions. When his parishioners flocked to him for confession, they came out renewed and felt much joy of God’s forgiveness. As days went by, more and more people from all over Europe and around the world came to Ars for the Sacrament of Confession.

It is estimated that by 1855, the number of pilgrims to Ars had reached 20,000 a year. Towards the last years of his life, he used to spend close to 16 to 18 hours a day in confessions.

Saint Jean Vianney Birth

Saint Jean Vianney was born in Dardilly, Lyon, in France on May 8 1786 and took the name Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney. His father was called Matthieu Vianney and his mother was called Marie (Belize). He was the fourth born of six children.

Saint Jean Vianney Death

On August 2 1859, Fr Jean Vianney received Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and at dawn, on August 4 1859, he died there at Ars, Ain, France at the age of 73 years. The funeral service was attended by over 300 priests and more than 6,000 faithful.

Beatification

Saint Jean Vianney was declared venerable on October 3 1874 by Pope Pius IX. He was beatified by Pope Pius X on January 8 1905.

Canonization

Saint Jean Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 31 1925 in Vatican City.

Saint Jean Vianney is the Patron Saint of

  • Parish Priests (In 1929, Pope Pius XI declared Saint Jean Vianney as the patron saint)
  • Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney
  • Confessors
  • Archdiocese of Kansas City
  • Archdiocese of Dubuque

Saint Jean Vianney Feast Day

His feast day is celebrated on August 4 every year in the Catholic Church. Initially, in 1928, his feast day was placed on August 9. In 1960, it was transferred to August 8 but in 1969 it was finally transferred to August 4, the date of his death.

Notable Institutions Named after Saint Jean Vianney

  • St. John Vianney’s Church, Peshawar (Peshawar, Pakistan)
  • St. John Vianney Seminary (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Primary School (Belize City, Belize)
  • St. John Vianney High School (Los Angeles, California, USA)
  • St. John Vianney High School (Kirkwood, Missouri, USA)
  • St. John Vianney High School (Holmdel Township, New Jersey, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Cure of Ars School (The Bronx, New York, USA)
  • St. John Vianney College Seminary (Miami, Florida, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church, (Shelby Township, Michigan, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church and School (Spokane Valley, WA, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church (Sedona, Arizona, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church (Flint, Michigan, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church (Dublin, Ireland),[31]
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church (Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church (Brookfield, Wisconsin, USA)
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church & School (San Jose, CA, USA)
  • St. Jean Vianney School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
  • St John Vianney church and school in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary (Denver, Colorado, USA)
  • Saint John Vianney School, a special school in Firswood, England
  • Saint John Vianney School (Gallatin, Tennessee, USA)
  • Saint John Vianney Catholic Church (Houston, Texas, USA)
  • Saint John Vianney Catholic Church & School, Rancho Cordova, CA
  • Saint John Mary Vianney Academy (Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines)
  • Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney (Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil)

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