Feast of St John Vianney

Fr Paul reads today’s Gospel from Matthew (15: 1-2, 10-14) in which the Pharisees question Jesus about why his disciples break away from tradition.

In his reflection, Fr Paul reminds us that over previous days we have celebrated the lives of various founders of religious orders (the Redemptorists, the Dominicans and the Jesuits) and that, today, we remember the life of St John Mary Vianney (1786-1859).

John Vianney was the son of a peasant farmer. He was described as slow and unpromising as a candidate for the priesthood. Eventually, he was ordained due to his devoutness rather than because of anything he achieved.

In 1818, John Vianney was sent to be the Parish Priest for an isolated village called ‘Ars’ some distance from Lyon in France. John remained there for the rest of his life because the parishioners would not let him leave.  He was a noted preacher and, especially, a noted confessor.  At times, he spent up to 18 hours a day in the confessional such was the demand for people to see him.

At one point up to 20,000 people a year were visiting this isolated village and so Ars became a place of pilgrimage.  In 1848 the French Government awarded John the Legion of Honour, which he simply sold and gave the money to the poor.

St John Vianney is the patron saint of Parish Priests throughout the world. As we celebrate his life today, Fr Paul invites us to say a prayer for all Parish priests.