bishop, had very serious doubts that this man who did not have strong
intellectual gifts, would be suitable for the priesthood. However, John Vianney
persevered and finally was ordained a priest in 1815. His bishop, acting on his
estimation of this new priest as a man of few gifts, sent him to the remotest
backwater village of his diocese, the village of Ars. There Fr. John Vianney
spent the rest of his life except for one brief period when he tried to flee the
duties and pressures of parish life and to find a quiet place where he could
pray in peace and solitude. That was not in God's plan for him and he soon
returned to Ars.
He was a man of great dedication to his call to be a priest and to serve his
people. He preached in a very simple manner, had a great love of the Blessed
Sacrament and the Blessed Mother and he had a special devotion to St. Philomena.
Through his work as a confessor he brought about a spiritual renewal that
touched not only the people of his parish but all of France. He regularly spent
14 to 18 hours a day in the confessional surviving on only a few hour sleep and
a diet of boiled potatoes. As the word spread his extraordinary abilities as a
confessor, thousands, including bishops and aristocracy made the journey to Ars
in order to receive his spiritual counsel.
Thus a man who started his life as one who very few thought would ever amount
to anything became, by the time of his death in 1859, the vehicle 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 faithful.
John Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1925. He is the only diocesan
priest ever to be canonized. He is the patron saint of clergy throughout the
world. His feast day is August 4.
The Catholic Encyclopedia Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight.
Used with permission.