Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Saints: John Vianney

From his earliest life John Vianney wanted only to be a priest. Circumstances were really against him, though. He was born in 1786 to a peasant family who lived in a village near Lyons, France. He was given little education as a young man, but finally received enough tutoring to get a seat in a seminary.

While in seminary John was drafted to serve in the army. He deserted and hid out. Somehow I can picture him with a daisy sticking out of the barrel of his gun. In 1810 the French government declared an amnesty for deserters and he resumed his seminary studies. John was such a poor student that he came very close to not being recommended for ordination. However, he was so pious that his superiors decided to ordain him anyway. By this time John was 29 years old.

After a brief stint at his home parish, John was sent to the small village of Ars-en-Dombes, population 250. John took seriously his responsibility for the souls of his village people. He opened the confessional and pretty soon a stream of penitents came from miles around. It is said that he would sit in the confessional up to eighteen hours a day, helping people break down the barriers that kept them from knowing and loving God.

Eventually the railroad provided special trains to take pilgrims to Ars to make their confession. Strangely, Napoleon III sent John the medal of the Legion of Honor. Having been a deserter from the army, John would not even take the medal out of the box. John only wanted to be a priest, and he did it so well that at his death in 1859 he was known throughout France for his faithfulness to his calling.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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