The Cure of Ars, patron saint of parish priests. He was born at Dardilly, France, on May 8, 1786, a shepherd's son. At the age of twenty, he began to study for the priest-hood but was drafted into the army. Deserting, he returned home in 1810 and went to Lyons seminary in 1813. John was ordained because of his goodness, despite the fact that he had great difficulties with his studies, especially Latin. Abbe Bailey, of Ecully, personally intervened on his behalf, and John was assigned to Ecully. In 1818 he became the Cure, as pastor of Ars. His mission there was conducted in the confessional, and toward the end of his life he spent sixteen to eighteen hours a day administering the Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, to the thousands who flocked to Ars. He helped to found La Providence, a home for orphaned and abandoned children. John was gifted with discernment of spirits and read souls with ease, reclaiming thousands of lapsed Catholics. He also built a shrine to St. Philomena, a site that became a popular pilgrim destination. For thirty years, he suffered diabolical attacks, and his fellow priests charged that he was too ignorant to be a Cure. Refusing all honors offered to him, John died at Ars. He was canonized in 1925 and made patron of parish priests.
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By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
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