Skip to comments.Centuries Old Relic (heart of St. John Vianney) Comes To U.S.
Posted on 10/06/2006 10:41:30 AM PDT by NYer
(AP) MERRICK, N.Y. In life, St. John Vianney was a revered 19th-century French clergyman who was said to be blessed with the ability to read the hearts of worshippers. In death, his own heart has became an object of worship.
For reasons unknown, Vianney's body never decayed after death, and his heart and body have been encased in separate glass reliquaries in France for more than a century.
The heart is being brought to the U.S. for the first time this weekend in what the pastor of the Long Island church hosting the relic calls a "historical moment for our country, our diocese, our church."
The Rev. Charles Mangano of Long Island's CurÄe of Ars church said pastors from some of the Roman Catholic parishes around the country that bear Vianney's name are flying in for the occasion, and thousands of worshippers are also expected.
The heart and Vianney's chalice will be placed at the front of the altar, where people can alternately walk past the relics and pray, or attend various Masses and other events commemorating the visit. The brownish heart, with just a hint of pink in the middle, sits in a small glass case.
After five days of services beginning Saturday, the heart will be taken to a parish in Boston before returning to France.
There are about 50 parishes in the United States named for Vianney, but the church in Merrick was the first in the U.S. to be named in his honor, Mangano said. The saint's heart is being brought to the suburban community by Bishop Guy Bagnard, bishop of Belley, Ars-France, to help the parish celebrate its 80th anniversary.
Vianney was the 19th century CurÄe (curate, or pastor) of the village of Ars in France, and died there in 1859. When his body was exhumed in 1904 because of his pending beatification, it was found intact. Except for one time in 1925, when the heart was taken to Rome for Vianney's canonization, it has never left France.
Mangano said there's a long-standing tradition in the Catholic church of venerating relics such as the heart of Vianney, the patron saint of priests. But for the uninitiated, he said think of Elvis Presley.
"People get on eBay and they'll try to get belongings or artifacts from like Elvis Presley, like people that they idolized, they admired," the priest explained. "Because having something of that person, you know, makes you feel close to them."
He said for Catholics, "having a relic in our presence, it inspires us because this relic is from the body of a person whose body and soul was for God."
Actually, in a way, Vianney may have been an "Elvis" of his time. It is said that upwards of 50,000 people a year would travel to Ars to see him. A rail link had to be built from Lyon to Ars just to accommodate the worshippers.
"They had holy cards, pictures of him," Mangano said. "People were calling him a saint when he was alive."
The fact that the heart hasn't decayed is a mystery of science, or faith, Mangano said.
Venerating the remains of saints and martyrs goes back to the earliest days of the Catholic church, said the Rev. Jean-Paul Ruiz, a professor of theology at St. John's University.
"When we venerate the relics of saints, it puts us in touch with those persons who we believe are still alive beyond the death of their bodies."
Mangano said he first saw the heart last year while on a retreat to Ars -- inspired because he is pastor of a church that honors Vianney.
"It's an actual heart, 3-D, not in any kind of gel or formaldehyde," he said. "It's brownish color. When you get really close to it, the center is still pinkish-red. Everything else around it is all like browned with age."
"It's really extraordinary."
Mangano also noted that it was significant for the relic of the patron saint of priests to be taken to his church, following years of scandal involving priests having sex with underage children.
"I think God is saying, OK, it's time to heal the hearts of the people, of the clergy, because everyone's been hurt by this," he said. "But it's time for us to forgive and to not lose sight of the sacredness of the priesthood, which I think in all that's happened, maybe for some people, they've lost the sacredness of the priesthood."
St. John Vianney
Called the "Cure of Ars", St. John Vianney was the son of a poor farmer in Dardilly, France. He worked as a shepherd and didn't begin his education until he was 20 years old. While an ecclesiastical student he was called for military service, and became a "delinquent conscript" more or less because of illness, and hid to escape Napoleon's police.
He had difficulty learning Latin, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. He was finally ordained at the age of 30, but was thought to be so incompetent he was placed under the direction of Fr. Balley, a holy priest in a neighboring village, for further training.
St. John lived an austere life, ate potatoes he boiled, and learned to keep suspended by a rope from the ceiling, so the rats wouldn't get to them. He allowed himself 2 hours of sleep each night and was frequently interrupted by the devil, who assaulted him with deafening noises, insulting conversation, and physical abuse. These diabolical visitations were occasionally witnessed with alarm by the men of the parish, but the pious Cure accepted the attacks as a matter of course and often joked about them.
St. John was given many spiritual gifts, such as the power of healing and the ability to read the hearts of his penitents. It was this latter gift which caused his fame to spread throughout France, and created large crowds seeking guidance from him.
The frail Cure began hearing confessions at 1 o'clock in the morning, and it has been reported that he spent from 13 to 17 hours a day in the cramped confessional.
St. John died peacefully on August 4, 1859. His body was exhumed because of his impending beatification, and was found dried and darkened, but perfectly entire.
St. John Vianney, who as a student had difficulties being accepted for the priesthood, was canonized in 1925 and was named later the Patron of Parish Priests throughout the world.
More information on St. John Vianney can be obtained from The Cure of Ars, by Fr. O'Brien, or The Incorruptibles, Joan Carroll Cruz.
No wonder we Catholics have to put up with so much nonsense! An "object of WORSHIP?[latria]" I don't think so. Maybe an object of veneration [doula].
The MainStream Media once again shows what incompetent dopes they are. Sheesh!
I also notice they don't miss a chance to get in a snide comment about the homosexual abuse scandal.
"All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man."
- St. John Vianney, Cure d'Ars
Though the anti-Catholics still have no explanation as to why the bodies of some saints are uncorrupt after centuries.
Uncorrupt should be INCORRUPT.
Cure of Ars bump
Great minds think alike!! You stole my thunder. Argh! We do not worship relics, statues, Mary or the saints. We venerate, V-E-N-E-R-A-T-E!
My standing rule is not to read anything about the Churhc in the MSM. They're idiots.
No answer for the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano either.
First Friday Bump
Saint John Vianney pray for us and for our priests.
You know that; we know that. But try saying that when somebody is all over how we "Worship" Mary. Shall we answer, "Well, yes, in an older, less technical sense of the word, we do." It would be true, but would it move the argument along?That's why I referred to latria and doula.
I agree. They try to twist words around and assign unintended meanings to them. It makes more sense to use terms that are more difficult to distort. Most of them can't even come to grips with the idea that "firstborn" is a legal term that refers to the first child born of the union, it says nothing about whether or not any children followed. Nor can they accept the fact that our Lord was speaking to His Disciples in Aramaic (and now some are saying possibly Hebrew) and not classical Greek and that this has an impact on how some things are then translated.
Worship vs. Veneration bump....
If I had known about this in advance enough, I would have been there...
Dear Cure of Ars,
Faithful worker for our Lord,
whose life was a shining example of one who lived for the Lord,
pray for us, and especially all priests,
now, and at the hour of our deaths, Amen.
and another prayer:
St. Jean Vianney, Cure of Ars
He wanted so much to be a priest,
this little man,
a bad student,
a farm worker who knew his prayers
and never learned his latin well,
but how he loved you, Lord,
like a shining torch in the night.
They put hin in an insignificant place,
at a time
was nearly forgot,
and the custom of prayer
Who could have known
what seed was planted
in little Ars?
How many hearts did he touch,
this little seed
blooming into a glorious flower,
on flame for God,
sitting in the confessional hour after hour,
caring for the lost,
teaching your truth,
yet always feeling
never quite good enough,
never holy enough
for the work you gave him,
the souls he molded,
the generation he touched.
St. Jean Marie Vianney,
now you know the worth of your work.
Thank you for answering God's call.
Pray for me, O Cure of Ars,
pray for all those hearing the call of God,
pray for all priests
and may they always be inspired by your example.
Ditto's with the problem of people accusing Catholics of "praying to saints" and equating it with idolatry. As if the saints were mini-god's with god-like powers who could answer our prayers on their own!! Educated Catholics know what "praying to saints" really means, ie. we are asking for an intercessory prayer to God, not asking the saint themself to anwser our prayer.
However, many non-Catholics like to play semantic word games with "praying to saints" too, and then one needs to stop and try to explain reality to them.
This is why I cringe whenever I hear a Catholic say something like "I prayed to Mary for my child to be healed of their illness, and my child got better soon after", or something along those lines. I am always careful to say that I am asking a Saint for intercessory prayers for this reason - I say something like "Mary, pray for us", rather than saying that I am praying TO Mary. Catholics know the difference (at least the one's who have been properly educated in the Faith), but modern NON-Catholics do not (or pretend they do not!!).
I take adult "Catholic Classes" twice a month from a Traditional Priest from the Institute of Christ the King, Soverign Priest. When he made a comment in a recent class about how we should "pray to Saint Francis de Sales", I immediately interjected "you mean we should 'ask Saint Francis de Sales to pray for us', right?". And he gave me a quick "yes, of course" type of answer, as if to say "well, yeah, we should THAT already". My dealings with non-Catholics who accuse us of "praying to saints" even causes me to prompt a priest from one of the most Orthodox Catholic orders around to clarify himself on the point!!
"To love the good God with our whole heart is to prefer Him to everything...to love nothing that is incompatible with the love or God. To love the good God with our whole mind is to think of Him often, and to make it our principle study to know Him well...To love the good God with all our strength. is to employ our possessions, our health, and our talents, in serving Him and glorifying Him. It is to refer all our actions to Him, as our last end.."- St. Jean Vianney
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