Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, a French parish priest, was born in 1786 and died on August 4, 1859. His parents were forced to drive great distances to attend Mass in the countryside, since it was illegal in France at the time. His education had been interrupted by the French revolution, and he twice failed the exams required before he could be ordained.
As a priest, he was named pastor of a small church in the remote French hamlet of Ars. There his saintly example, his inspired preaching and his persevering ministry in the Sacrament of Confession brought souls to Christ, and his entire community was radically transformed. News of his ministry spread, and people from around the world sought his counsel in the confessional. As many as 20,000 pilgrims a year traveled to Ars, hoping that the saint would hear their confession; and he spent 12 hours a day (and 16 hours a day during the summer months) in the confessional.
It is believed that occasionally, the bodies of certain saints have been preserved by God from decay. St. John Vianney died in 1859, and the confessor’s body was exhumed and found incorrupt in 1904. His body remains on display in a glass casket above the main altar in the Basilica of Ars.
Prayer of St. John Vianney
I love You, O my God,
and my only desire is to love You
until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God,
and I would rather die loving You,
than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord
and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,
I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.