Saint of the Confessional

How St. John Vianney Brought a Whole Town to Conversion

Saint of the Confessional

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On a gray and misty late afternoon in February 1818, a thirty-one-year-old priest reached the outskirts of a backwater village north of Lyons, France. Immediately, he knelt down on the roadside and prayed.

Fr. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney, just beginning his first assignment as pastor, was already interceding for a mission that he knew to be beyond his ability. “There is not much love for God in that parish,” the vicar general had told him about the little town of Ars. “You will bring some into it.”

Only God could work this kind of change, the young priest knew. He was also aware that he would never attract others to Jesus unless he himself continued on the road to holiness day after day. Fr. Vianney had been on this path since childhood, but it was at Ars, as he continued to face down his own weaknesses and grow in prayer and self-denial, that this good priest became a holy one.

In time, the Curé of Ars’ life of ongoing conversion had a converting effect…

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