“Do not try to please everybody.
Try to please God, the saints and the angels—they are your public.”
John Vianney, born in 1786 in Dardilly, France, grew up in the midst of a persecuted French church. During the French Revolution, many priests went into hiding. The Vianney family farm was a refuge for fugitive priests. Inspired by the priests, John entered the seminary. Although he was a poor student and failed many classes, his superiors could see he was a serious student of prayer and the works of mercy. John Vianney was ordained and sent to serve as a parish priest in Ars, France.
John Vianney’s works of mercy brought faith and love into Ars—a village that was indifferent to religion as a result of the French Revolution. He started religious education for both adults and children and began a parish school. He opened an orphanage to shelter the parentless children. Perhaps, his greatest work of mercy was his tireless dedication to hearing confessions. John Vianney would welcome penitents 12-16 hours a day. Soon, his fame spread and people would travel miles and wait for three days to confess to him. It was reported John Vianney received up to 20,000 pilgrims each year. At the time of his death in 1859, John Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask. He is entombed in a glass coffin in the main altar in the Basilica at Ars.
Through John Vianney’s humble example of sanctity and love, the parish of Ars changed into a community of piety and prayer. His counsel was simple and wise: “You pray. You love. And there you have happiness on earth.”
Website: Loyola Press http://loyolapress.com/saints.htm#