Feast Day: August 4
Born: 1768 :: Died: 1859
John Mary Vianney was born in Lyons, in France. As a child he took care of his father's sheep. He loved to pray but he also loved to play horseshoes. When John was eighteen, he asked his father if he could become a priest. His father was worried because John had become a big help on the family farm but two years later his father agreed.
When he was twenty years old, John studied under Father Balley. The priest was very patient but John became sad when he found it difficult to learn Latin. He then decided to walk sixty miles, which was a very long walk, to the shrine of St. John Francis Regis whose feast we celebrate on June 16. John prayed to St. John Francis for help. After the pilgrimage, he still found his lessons difficult but now he was not sad. He just decided to study harder.
John was finally able to enter the seminary to become a priest. No matter how much he tried, he found his studies quite hard. In the final exams, which were spoken, not written, John had to face a group of teachers and answer their questions. He was very worried and could not complete the test.
Yet, because John was a holy man, he was full of common sense and understood what the Church taught about the subjects. He knew the right answers when asked what should be done in this case or that. He just couldn't say those answers in the difficult way they were taught in the Latin text books. John was ordained and became a priest anyway. He understood what his job was as a priest and everyone knew he was a good man.
After he became a priest, he was sent to a little parish called Ars. Father Vianney fasted, prayed and did hard penance so that God would save the people of his parish from sin. The people of his parish were not all good. They drank too much liquor, used bad language, worked even on Sundays and never went to Church.
Then God heard Fr. Vianney's prayer and one by one the liquor shops closed down. People slowly started going to Church for Mass and began worshipping God.
God gave John the power to see into people's minds and to know the future. Because of this gift, he converted many sinners and helped people make the right choices in life.
Hundreds of pilgrims began to come to Ars and St. John Vianney spent twelve to sixteen hours everyday hearing confessions. He really wanted to spend the rest of his life in a monastery as a monk; instead, he stayed forty-two years at Ars and died there in 1859 at the age of seventy-three.
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