Skip to content

St. John Vianney

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. John Vianney

Facts

Feastday: August 4

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, known as John in English, was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, France and was baptized the same day. He was the fourth of six children born to Matthieu and Marie Vianney.

John was raised in a Catholic home and the family often helped the poor and housed St. Benedict Joseph Labre when he made his pilgrimage to Rome.

In 1790, when the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution forced priests to work in secrecy or face execution, young Vianney believed the priests were heroes.

He continued to believe in the bravery of priests and received his First Communion catechism instructions in private by two nuns who lost their convents to the Revolution.

At 13-years-old, John made his first communion and prepared for his confirmation in secrecy.

When he was 20-years-old, John was allowed to leave the family farm to learn at a "prsbytery-school" in Écully. There he learned math, history, geography and Latin.

As his education had been disrupted by the French Revolution, he struggled in his studies, particularly with Latin, but worked hard to learn.

In 1802, the Catholic Church was reestablished in France and religious freedom and peace spread throughout the country.

Unfortunately, in 1809, John was drafted into Napoleon Bonaparte's armies. He had been studying as an ecclesiastical student, which was a protected title and would normally have excepted him from military services, but Napoleon had withdrawn the exemption in some dioceses as he required more soldiers.

Two days into his service, John fell ill and required hospitalization. As his troop continued, he stopped in at a church where he prayed. There he met a young man who volunteered to return him to his group, but instead led him deep into the mountains where military deserters met.

John lived with them for one year and two months. He used the name Jerome Vincent and opened a school for the nearby village of Les Noes' children.

John remained in Les Noes and hid when gendarmes came in search of deserters until 1810, when deserters were granted amnesty.

Now free, John returned to Écully and resumed his ecclesiastic studies. He attended a minor seminary, Abbe Balley, in 1812 and was eventually ordained a deacon in June 1815.

He joined his heroes as a priest August 12, 1815 in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble. His first Mass was celebrated the next day and he was appointed assistant to Balley in Écully.

Three years later, when Balley passed away, Fr. John Vianney was appointed parish priest of the Ars parish. With help from Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lerdet, La Providence, a home for girls, was established in Ars.

When he began his priestly duties, Fr. Vianney realized many were either ignorant or indifferent to religion as a result of the French Revolution. Many danced and drank on Sundays or worked in their fields.

Fr. Vianney spent much time in confession and often delivered homilies against blasphemy and dancing. Finally, if parishioners did not give up dancing, he refused them absolution.

He spent 11 to twelve hours each day working to reconcile people with God. In the summer months, he often worked 16-hour days and refused to retire.

His fame spread until people began to travel to him in 1827. Within thirty years, it is said he received up to 20,000 pilgrims each year.

He was deeply devoted to St. Philomena and erected a chapel and shrine in her honor. When he later became deathly ill but miraculously recovered, he attributed his health to St. Philomena's intercession.

By 1853, Fr. Vianney had attempted to run away from Ars four times, each attempt with the intention of becoming a monk but decided after the final time that it was not to be.

Six years later, he passed away and left behind a legacy of faith and was viewed as the champion of the poor.

On October 3, 1873, Pope Pius IX proclaimed Fr. Vianney as "venerable" and on January 8, 1905, Pope Pius X beatified him. St. John Vianney was canonized on May 31, 1925. His feast day was declared August 9 but it was changed twice before it fell to August 4.

St. John Vianney would often say: "Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that."

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.



St. John Vianney Comments


More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

101.

Image of St. Ambrose

St. Ambrose

Saint Ambrose, also known as Aurelius Ambrosius, is one of the four original doctors of the Church. He was the Bishop of Milan and became one of the most important theological figure of the ... continue reading

102.

Image of St. Dominic Savio

St. Dominic Savio

Dominic Savio was born on April 2, 1842 in the village of Riva in northern Italy. His father was a blacksmith and his mother a seamstress. He had nine brothers and sisters. His family was ... continue reading

103.

Image of St. Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12. All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Venturino of Bergamo

St. Venturino of Bergamo

Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, Italy, he joined the Dominicans in 1319 and soon distinguished himself as a brilliant preacher, attracting huge crowds throughout ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Lucy

St. Lucy

Lucy's history has been lost and all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life during the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Martin of Tours

St. Martin of Tours

Saint Martin of Tours was born in in Savaria, Pannonia in either the year 316 or 336 AD. That region is what is today the nation of Hungary. His father was a tribune, which is a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard. Martin and his family went with his ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo

Saint Charles Borromeo was born on October 2, 1538 at the castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore near Milan. His father was the Count of Arona and his mother a member of the House of Medici. He was the third of six children born to the couple. At the age of 12, the young ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Saint Patrick in blue vestments.

Bet you didn't know these 10 things about St. Patrick and Ireland!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The most kids know of St. Patrick 's Day is that you must wear green or you'll get a pinch from your friends. Adults see the day as an occasion to celebrate, sometimes with green beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages. However, few really know what they are ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.