St. John Vianney
Born: May 8, 1786
Died: August 4, 1859
Canonized: 1925, by Pope Pius XI
Feast Day: August 4
Patron Saint of: parish priests
John Vianney is also known as John Baptist Vianney, Jean-Baptist Vianney, Jean-Baptist-Marie Vianney and the Curé of Ars.
Born in Dardilly, France, John grew up in a poor family, making his living off the land as a shepherd and farmer. He started his education at the age of 20 and really excelled at nothing, struggling to get through school. While in seminary, Napoleon launched escapades to conquer Europe and all young men of France were called to arms. Due to an illness, John was delayed and missed the recruiting call and, so, hired the services of a guide and set out to catch up with them. Instead of being guided to the band of recruits, he was led to a band of AWOL French troopers. He found a home there, as he was needed by the young children of the region. John's family was disgraced by John's actions, innocent as they were. As was the custom of the time, the family saved face with John's younger brother taking his place in the war. John later returned to seminary and after much struggle in the classroom (failing Latin twice), was ordained at the age of 30 in 1815. Many Catholics of the area were outraged at his ordination, knowing about his less-than-exemplary knowledge (especially of Latin) and passed a petition to have him removed. When the petition finally got around to John, he signed it too, agreeing that he was as they claimed, a below-average student. When the petition got to the bishop, he was amused and accordingly shrugged it off. John was sent to Ars in 1818 to be the parish priest (or "Curé"). There, the number of parishioners grew rapidly, as the word spread that this holy man could see into people's souls. By the year 1855, the Cure' of Ars was hearing as many as 20,000 confessions a year, spending 13 to 16 hours a day in the confessional. As the news continued to spread, the sick were brought to Ars; there, they were cured. The Curé of Ars, with such a strenuous workload, slept on average only 2 hours a night. And on many of those nights he was tormented by Satan. During one of those nightmares, Satan revealed to John that if there were but three men like John on earth, that Satan's kingdom would be broken. The exhausting pace of confessions and healings physically drained him; he gave all he had. John died on August 4, 1859.