The Surprising Thing St. John Vianney Did When Parishioners Rejected Him
Many people know that St. John Vianney is the patron of priests but few know about the hostile age he lived in, the rejection he faced, and the courage he had to lead souls to Christ.
Born in 1786, Vianney came about during the anticlerical terror phrase of the French Revolution. He grew up going to underground and illegal Masses as Catholicism was suppressed and persecuted.
The persecution lifted right around the time he joined seminary and became a priest, but the effects on the French were long lasting. In the small town of Ars, there were four pubs for just 230 people and there was a culture of intoxication and pagan rituals. Vianney preached against these sins from the pulpit and in the confessional.
In time, a petition went around Ars that said he should be removed as pastor because he was incompetent, lazy, ineffective, and unpopular. Upon hearing this, John Vianney said, “Show me the petition.” He read over it and then to the surprise of the people of Ars, Vianney took a pen and signed his own name. “They’re right,” he exclaimed, and he grabbed his coat and headed off to visit sick parishioners.
The example of St. John Vianney shows us a true example of leadership. Vianney was bold and courageous during a difficult time in the history of France. He wasn’t afraid of standing up for what was true even when the people were corrupt and rejected him. He was also humble and knew his weaknesses, but he didn’t let them stop him from the most important thing – saving souls. In time, his holiness spread well beyond Ars as pilgrims came from around Europe to confession with this saintly man.
Today, pastors are called to follow Vianney’s example of standing up for the truth and remaining humble and faithful in their ministry. God finds ways to bless priests for their faithfulness to the Gospel, especially in difficult times.
St. John Vianney, pray for us
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