The Knights of Columbus is currently holding nationwide tour of Curé of Ars Heart. Courtesy of The Shrine of Ars, France, the major relic of St. Jean Vianney’s incorrupt heart is presently on a national tour in the U.S., from November 2018 through early June 2019. It made a brief private stop at St. Patrick's Seminary.
The St. Patrick's campus community had the opportunity to participate in a Holy Mass and offer veneration to a major relic of St. Jean Vianney, the patron of parish priests. St. Jean Vianney's holiness and integrity is a model for clergy and laity alike. Everything he did conformed to the will of God and for the good of the people of Ars. He would listen to confession for hours before the early morning daily mass, personally catechized the children of his parish, visit the sick and elderly in the town, and yet continue his own spiritual prayer life with the Breviary.
St. Jean Vianney faced spiritual warfare with the powers of darkness on a nearly nightly basis. For the more than 35 years (1824 to 1858), the Cure d'Ars was subjected to attacks from the evil one. Despite the ferociousness of the attacks to distract and defeat St. Jean Vianney's will, he never faltered and even humorously said, “Oh! the grappin” – his nickname for the Devil – “and myself? We are almost chums.” The Devil himself supposedly exclaimed, “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.”
One seminarian confided that he thought it was appropriate that the relic was his incorrupt heart since St. Jean Vianney had the "heart of a shepherd" and, while venerating the relic, he focused on the St. Jean Vianney's ability to read and inflame people's hearts. Another seminarian mentioned how humble he felt while venerating the relic thinking about the holiness of this "patron of parish priests".
The Cure d'Ars never underestimated the importance of the role of parish priest. In his Catechism on the Priesthood, he said “Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love.” Indeed, his life embodied that the “priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
Given St. Jean Vianney's importance as example for all priests who serve their God and their flock every day, St. Patrick's is thankful for the opportunity to have the relic of his incorrupt heart visit our campus. You can see some pictures of the Holy Mass with the relic in the slideshow below. Don't miss the closeup triptych photo of the relic at the end of the slideshow - courtesy of a St. Patrick's seminarian!