Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint John Vianney (1786–1859)

Saint John Vianney (1786–1859)

Patron saint of parish priests

Feast day: August 4

Saint John Vianney was born near Lyons, France, in 1786. He worked as a shepherd boy on his father’s farm and only briefly attended the village school when he was nine. When he entered the seminary to study for the priesthood, he struggled with his studies and it was questionable whether he would be ordained. He especially had trouble with Latin, the language used for all his classes. A parish priest tutored him privately and arranged for special exams.

The seminary officials were impressed with his goodness, and the bishop ordained him in 1815. In 1817, Saint John Vianney was assigned to Arsen-Dombes, a remote village of fewer than 250 people. This is why he is sometimes called the Cure d’Ars. (The word cure is French for curate, or parish priest.) He restored the church, visited every parishioner, and instructed the people in the faith. Although his sermons were often about hell and the Last Judgment, he was a compassionate priest and was loved and respected as a confessor and spiritual counselor.

He developed a reputation for working miracles and attracted many visitors. For the last fifteen years of his life, he preached every day and spent long hours hearing confessions and offering spiritual counsel to the thousands of visitors who came to see him.

He was canonized in 1925. (Adapted from The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image by Gabitzu 6b, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)