On June 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XIV affirmed St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, Curé of Ars, as the patron of all priests. The date marks the 150th anniversary of St. John Vianney’s death. St. John Vianney was born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786 to Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze. He was not known as a particularly strong student and almost flunked out of seminary because he could not master Latin. With extreme effort and commitment, he finally passed his courses and was ordained on August 13, 1815.
St. John Vianney respected and loved his role as priest and pastor. He understood the tremendous influence of a priest and stated, “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” While serving his parish, he spent much as 18 hours per day in the confessional. Not only did lay people come to him for advice and spiritual direction, but other clergy also sought his wisdom. By 1855, as many as 20,000 people per year traveled from throughout Europe to talk with St. John Vianney. He died at Ars on August 4, 1859.