The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Catechetical Saints: St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars

Authored by Sr. M. Johanna Paruch in Issue #30.4 of The Sower
In this year of the priest, these articles will be dedicated to catechetical saints who were priests. Since the year has been placed under the patronage of St. John Vianney, we will begin with him. If one wants to understand the Curé of Ars (the pastor of Ars), one must understand the French Revolution. Often it is described as a fight to overthrow the corrupt and decadent reign of the French monarchy, and as far as it goes this was true. However, with that must be coupled the knowledge that the revolutionaries did the best they could to destroy the Catholic Church. Thousands of priests and religious were exiled, or executed. Others were imprisoned on ships, and other spent their days hiding from the so-called revolutionaries to avoid capture and imprisonment.1 The Vianney family was one of the devout families who hid these fugitives. These things continued after the so-called Reign of Terror officially ended. The thirteen year-old John Mary Vianney received his First Communion secretly in the house of a neighbor, with hay bales blocking the light from the windows to prevent discovery. The Curé is famous for his ministry in the confessional. He heard confessions for up to 18 hours a day. 20,000 pilgrims a year came to see him in Ars. St. John Vianney also lived a deeply Eucharistic life. He often said, ‘Our Lord is hidden there, waiting for us to come and visit Him, and make our request to Him. See how good He is!’ He was also a priest who took his catechetical ministry very seriously. The Revolution had caused much religious ignorance and indifference; as a result many lived immoral lives and the Curé sought to rectify this.

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