Watch a short video on the life and ministry of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney. Marking the 150th anniversary of his death is a key element in the Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict XVI.


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Video transcript

Saint Jean-Marie Vianney’s life stands out as most unique for a priest. For example, he barely finished his seminary studies because he had trouble learning Latin. And he even tried escaping from his parish duties on three occasions because he saw himself as an obstacle However, he persevered and today hes known as the patron saint of priests – an example for all ordained.

He was born in 1786 in Dardilly, France. He grew up in a Catholic family of humble origins. He worked as a farmer until he was 19, when he was then able to join the seminary.

Card. Paul Poupard
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council of Culture

It wasn’t easy for him to join the seminary because he had problems learning Latin and back then you had to know Latin to become a priest.

But through his perseverance and with the help of a priest who never lost hope in him, he was able to finish his studies to later become the priest of the village of Ars in France, where he was greatly loved.

Card. Paul Poupard

I would say that his main virtue was that he was priest according to the heart of Jesus. This means that he devoted his life to priestly ministry, preaching, the celebration of the Eucharist and confession all in a heroic way because he spent a lot of time in the confessional.

Soon his fame spread. His distinct way of praying and celebrating Mass captivated people. His homilies were simple but profound.

He also had a great capacity to listen to others. In his later years he would spend 18-hours a day in the confessional. Wise and simple people alike sought his guidance on how to find God’s forgiveness and counsel. In 1855 nearly 20,000 people visited him.

Card. Paul Poupard

The secret of his success was that sinners found in him great peace. He impressed them because, through the grace of God, he was able to sense the secrets in the sinners soul and to offer consolation.

That’s why the Pope, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, has dedicated a special Year for Priests He hopes the faithful and especially priests learn more about the saints virtues and put them into practice.