The Curé of Ars: Patron Saint of Parish Priests


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AT THE time of his death in 1859, over 100,000 people a year visited the little village of Ars, northwest of Lyons, France, and its beloved Curé, St. John Vianney-known everywhere as “the Curé of Ars.” Today over 500,000 people visit this simple farming town in the middle of France, where they come to see the incorrupt body of one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church and to visit in prayerful meditation the simple parish church where the holy Curé converted thousands and reconciled to Jesus Christ and His Church tens of thousands of souls. Yet this is a most improbable story, for here is the story of a saint who, with only two years’ formal education before entering upon his priestly studies, had the greatest difficulty passing his examinations and becoming a priest. And even when he did, he was given one of the poorest, most remote and most run-down parishes in all of France. But within a few short years, he had reformed his parish and his town, and in the process established such a reputation that the world began to seek him out and finally to beat a path to his door. The Devil himself once revealed to St. John Vianney that if there were three such men as he alive at one time, his kingdom (the Devil’s) would be destroyed. Just four years after his canonization in 1925, Pope Pius XI named him “Patron Saint of Parish Priests.” Here is his story-the story of a saint who turned seemingly impossible adversity into spiritual triumph and in the most humble parish imaginable became the model and patron of parish priests everywhere. Here is the story of a saint whose warmth and love and spiritual penetration go right to the heart of the Christian message and bring it home, even to modern readers, with a force and a power that is unique among the saints-a force and power made possible only by the very greatest sanctity.

Here is the inspiring story of how that sanctity was forged in the soul of the Curé of Ars -“Patron Saint of Parish Priests.”