Thursday, August 3, 2017


St John Mary Vianney was born at Dardilly near Lyons, France on May 8th 1786.  The world John was born into was a disturbed one. When he was three years old the French Revolution began and two years later Dardilly found itself saddled with a "constitutional" priest, so the little John and his parents had to assist in secret at the mass of any fugitive loyal priest who came into the neighbourhood.  While the terror of the French Revolution was going on, he was learning to be a herd-boy, shepherding the cattle and sheep of Matthew Vianney's farm in the meadows on either side of the little river Planches.
He made his first Communion in secret when he was thirteen, and very shortly after, mass could be offered again in public at Dardilly.
John wished to become a priest, but he was twenty before he could leave home, having so little formal education his studies were very difficult for him also, during this time John was conscripted into the army. He had to report at the depot in Lyons on 26th October 1809.  Two days later he was taken ill and sent to hospital and his draft for the army in Spain left without him.  On 5th January 1810 he was ordered to report at Roanne for another draft on the morrow and John having gone into a church to pray, arrived after it had gone. he set out to catch up the draft at Renaison, while near the mountains, a stranger appeared and picking up John's knapsack ordered John to follow, John found himself in a hut near the remote mountain village of "Les Noes".
He now learned that the stranger was a deserter from the army, and that many more were in hiding in the woods and hills around.  John saw at once that his situation was compromising, and reported himself to the mayor of the Commune. M. Fayot was an humane official and a sensible man, he pointed out to John that he was already technically a deserter, and that of two evils the lesser was to remain in refuge where he was; and found him a lodging in the house of his own cousin.  His hiding place was in a stable under a hay-loft.  For fourteen months John was at Les Noes.
Several times he was nearly taken by gendarmes, once feeling the point of a sword between his ribs as it was thrust about in the hay of the loft.
In March 1810 the emperor, on the occasion of his marriage with the Archduchess Marie-Louise, had proclaimed an amnesty for all defaulters. John was able to return to his home a free man.
John returned to his studies, and after great difficulities, and thanks to the great help of Abbe Balley who coached John privately, and never gave up on him, on 12th August 1815 he was ordained  priest and said his first mass the next day.
John was made parish priest of Ars a remote and neglected place of 230 people.  Father Vianney set out to visit every household under his care. He worked hard for his little parish and prayed day and night for his parishoners  (who were not too interested in God or being saved!)
He waged relentless war against blasphemy, profanity, and obscenity, and was not afraid to utter from the pulpit the words and expressions that offended God, so there should be no mistake as to what he was talking about. For years he struggled for a proper observance of Sunday, not merely to get everybody to mass and vespers, but to abolish work which at times was done on Sunday without a shadow of necessity. For forty one years the good Cure waged a battle for the souls in his care. He eat very little just some dried bread and sometimes boiled potatoes. He spent many hours hearing confessions.
After a while his parishioners flocked to him for confession and felt the joy of God's forgiveness and of conversion. He listened, understood read their minds, prompted repentance and comforted them.
Ars became famous, people coming from far away to come to confession to the holy Cure of Ars, they came in their thousands. When one pilgrim was asked "but what did you see at Ars?" he replied "I saw God in a man"
St John Vianney worn out by all his work died on 4th August 1859.
On 31st May 1925 John Vianney Cure of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius X1,
and on 23rd April 1928 the pope declared him patron of the world's parish priests.

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