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St. John Vianney-Patron Saint of Priests

As a boy, born in the small French town of Dardilly, John Vianney was taught the traditional Catholic religion by his parents. He was the third of six children and learned from babyhood to care for the poor. During the French Revolution, in 1790, attending Mass was illegal and the Vianney family traveled to farms far away to attend Mass in secret. John began to consider priests as heroes because they defied the government for a higher calling. It’s no wonder that this little boy became St. John Vianney patron saint of priests.


At 20 he left the farm to study in Father Balley’s school where he struggled with Latin but persevered because of his strong desire to be a priest. He was drafted to fight Napoleon’s war with Spain and because of an illness did not leave with his group. When he recovered, someone offered to guide him to the place the army was stationed but instead took him to a hiding place for deserters. Even there, he wanted to help others, and started a village school under an assumed name. He had to hide from the police when they came to seek out deserters. Fourteen months later, amnesty was proclaimed to all deserters so he went back to resume his studies. He entered seminary in 1812 and was ordained a priest in 1815. St. John Vianney patron saint of priests was on course for the calling of his life.


He was a model example of a Catholic priest. He heard confessions and gave absolution to any willing to follow the faith. Because the Church was outlawed for so many years, many children had no idea what religion was and he fought tirelessly against blasphemy and dancing. He became famous all over France and other parts of Europe as a confessor. People came from far to consult him, and he spent 12 to 16 hours a day in the confessional absolving people for their transgressions and helping them understand a life with a higher aim. When he talked, he affected people. He always wanted to live a life of solitude and contemplation but this never became possible for him because he was needed by the people. He was canonized in 1928 and made St. John Vianney patron saint of priests in 1929.


Many miracles were attributed to St. John Vianney patron saint of priests including healing the sick, especially children. He had uncanny knowledge of the future and the past and, because of this, was able to give people the right advice according to their problems as well as determine false information during confessions. In 1905 he was designated a model for the parochial clergy.


St. John Vianney patron saint of priests was above all a humble man who served others while mortifying himself.  He didn’t eat or sleep enough for a normal human being. He was unfailing cheerful, patient and gentle with the people who sought his help and a great role model for any priest to live up to.

This article was published on Wednesday 18 November, 2009.

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