Born in 1786, St. John Vianney grew up during the time of the French Revolution. Even though he taught his siblings and other village their prayers during his childhood, when he entered the seminary he struggled with his studies. He was ordained in 1815, and his superiors wondered if John’s lack of knowledge in the Latin language would prevent him from saying confessions at all as a priest. Little did they know the amazing things God can do.
Assigned to a seemingly hopeless assignment in the village of Ars, St. John worked diligently to rekindle the fire of Catholicism in an area whose faith was all but dead. He took it upon himself to offer extreme penances for the re-conversion of his parish. He slept very little and spent most of the night praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
St. John was also known for the enormous amount of time he spent in the confessional. Little by little, the village of Ars returned to their Catholic faith by way of the Sacrament of Penance. Word soon spread about St. John’s holiness and he would spend up to sixteen hours a day hearing confession. He was also said to physically wrestle with the devil over the souls being saved for Christ.
St. John Vianney died at age seventy-three. He was canonized in 1925, and declared the patron of all priests.
What We Can Learn
St. John Vianney spent most of his priesthood in a confessional. He once commented on the subject of Confession:
“If one said to those poor souls in Heaven, ‘We are going to place a priest at the gate of Hell: all those who wish to confess have only to go out.’ Do you think, my children, that a single one would remain? The most guilty would not be afraid of telling their sins, nor even of telling them before the world. Oh, how soon Hell would be a desert, and how Heaven would be peopled!”
St John recognized the importance of the Sacrament of Penance. What a beautiful gift Christ has given us in the Catholic Church that we may be rid of our sins and return to grace in Christ!
After reading about St. John’s love for this sacrament, make it a goal this week to go to Church and make a good Confession, confident in the knowledge that, with contrition, your sins can be forgiven!
What We Can Pray
Beings that St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests, pray this prayer for a strengthening of our priests today:
Saintly Pastor of Ars and splendid model of all servants of souls, you were considered by this world not very bright, but you possessed the wisdom of the Saints. You were a true pontifex, a bridge-builder, between God and his people as countless penitents streamed to your confessional. Inspire all priests to be dedicated mediators between God and his people in our day.
St. John Vianney, Pray for Us!
Questions? Comments? Have a special devotion or story about St. John Vianney? Tell me about in the comments below!
God Bless you all,