Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney was a religious personality of unusual force. To the incomparable exclusion of everything else he addressed himself to the greater honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls. He accepted his obligation to holiness at an early age, and it took complete possession of him. Every word he uttered was spoken out of the world of religiousness. He brought to a conclusion an achievement which it would be hard for anyone to imitate. From this man there emanated an influence which cannot be overlooked, and the results of which cannot be contested.
Born on 8 May 1786, in the French town of Dardilly, France (near Lyon), and Jean-Marie baptized the same day. Jean-Marie’s mother was a woman of great piety, and she led him into the way of religion at an early age. “I owe a debt to my mother,” he said, and added, “virtues go easily from mothers into the hearts of their children, who willingly do what they see being done.” He was a good-natured boy, with blue eyes and brown hair. In spite of his lively disposition, he admitted much later on in life that “when I was young, I did not know evil. I was first acquainted with it in the confessional, from the mouths of sinners.”
It was only after much toil and trouble that Jean-Marie was admitted to the priesthood. At the age of 20, he was having great difficulty in his studies for the priesthood.
In 1818, Bishop of Ars assigned him to Ars. As parish priest, Jean-Marie realized that the Revolution’s aftermath had resulted in religious ignorance and indifference, due to the devastation wrought on the Catholic Church in France. At the time, Sundays in rural areas were spent working in the fields, or dancing and drinking in taverns. Jean-Marie spent time in the confessional and gave homilies against blasphemy and paganic dancing. If his parishioners did not give up this dancing, he refused them absolution.Read More »