All saints are extraordinary, but St. John Vianney, known as “The Cure of Ars,” was most extraordinary. He was born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France. His father was a farmer and John spent most of his youth herding cattle and feeding pigs. He received virtually no education and joined the French Army, but deserted in 1809. The only thing he wanted to be was a priest and so he entered a seminary.

Because of his lack of learning and knowledge, as well as his not knowing a word of Latin, it was very difficult and so some of his professors wanted him dismissed. But because of his obvious devotion and excellent character, he was allowed to remain. He was ordained a priest on Aug. 12, 1815.

After a few years as a junior curate, he was appointed Cure of Ars, where he spent the remainder of his life. The village of Ars was noted for the immorality of its people and lack of religious practice, but Father John changed all of that. He visited every family in the village and attracted the people to the church. He preached wonderful sermons, which drew people in thousands from all over the country.

After a few years, his fame as a confessor spread over all of the neighbouring countries and Father John Vianney spent 14-16 hours in the confessional daily. That is not an exaggeration, it is historically true. As well as his reputation as a confessor, his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament spread all over Europe. He held Perpetual Adoration every day and the church was always packed.

Of course, he had many enemies – even among the clergy – but he never forgot how Christ died and he welcomed persecution. Much more could be written about this wonderful priest, but space does not allow. John Vianney, the Cure of Ara, died on Aug. 4, 1859 at the age of 73. He was beatified in 1905 and canonized in 1925. In 1929, the Holy See declared him the “patron of parish priests.”