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St. John Vianney (August 4)

St. John Vianney was born at Dardilly near Lyons, France on May 3, 1786, a few years before the French Revolution. After shepherding cattle on his family farm, he decided to study for the priesthood. He was drafted into the army, but deserted in 1809. When amnesty was granted by Emperor Napoleon in March of 1810, he returned to Dardilly.John entered the seminary at Lyons in 1813. Despite his poor record at studies, he was finally ordained on August 12, 1815. He was assigned as a parish priest in 1817 to Ars-en-Dombes, a remote sleepy town of 230 people. Undoubtedly, his bishop wished to place him where not too much would be expected of him. Little did he realize the miracles of grace that would occur there. In 1824, with the help of others, he opened a free school for girls. This school laid the foundation for the establishment of La Providence, a shelter for orphans and deserted children, in 1827.

Through the prayer, penance and simple, tireless preaching of their parish priest, the people of Ars experienced a great spiritual awakening. News of this holy priest spread to the surrounding areas and soon men and women from all over Europe began to flock to the tiny village for confession and advice. More than three hundred visitors a day approached him. During winter, he would spend up to twelve hours a day in the confessional, and up to sixteen hours a day during summer. The few words he spoke to each were enough; they heard from him what they needed to hear. For forty-two years the Cure of Ars labored in his out-of-the-way parish until he died on August 4, 1859.