Friday, August 12, 2022

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

St. John Vianney
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

St. John Vianney

August 4

St. John Vianney (1786–1859) was born in France to a farming family, one of six children of devout Catholic parents. He was baptized on the day of his birth. When he was four years old the French Revolution erupted, and priests were forced into hiding. Every day they risked their lives to give the sacraments, and John looked up to them as heroes. His First Holy Communion and Confirmation were made in secrecy. After the Church in France was reestablished, John studied for the priesthood. He had difficulty in his studies due to his lack of formal education during the turmoil of the revolution, but his great desire carried him through. After his ordination he became a parish priest assigned to the small country town of Ars. There he ministered to the carnage the revolution had left in the souls of the French people. Many were indifferent to, and ignorant of, the Faith. John performed great penances for the people and received many graces for their conversion. He had the gifts of miracle-working, prophecy, hidden knowledge, and discernment of spirits. He was soon known internationally, and people came from afar to see him. Year after year he spent 11-12 hours a day in the confessional, and up to 16 hours in the summer. By 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims travelling annually to Ars. Because of this St. John Vianney was tormented by evil spirits throughout his life, especially when he attempted to get his two to three hours of sleep a night. He died at the age of 73 after serving 40 years as a parish priest. Over 300 priests and 6,000 people attended his funeral. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of confessors and priests. His feast day is August 4th.

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