The Knights of Columbus is sponsoring a tour of St. John Vianney’s “incorrupt heart” which is considered a major, first-class relic. The saint’s heart was removed 45 years after he died and remains incorrupt. It is encased in a large gold reliquary designed like a church building.
The “Heart of a Priest” is a six-month nationwide tour of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, the patron saint of all priests and the namesake of our school.
In the Catholic Church, a relic is a physical object associated with someone who has been declared a saint. While the object is not to be worshipped, it is venerated as a sign of the person's holiness. St. John Vianney's heart is considered a first-class relic, since it was part of the saint’s body as opposed to something that the saint touched or wore. It is said to be "incorruptible," referring to the fact that his body avoided the normal process of decomposition after death. Catholics believe that is also a sign of the person’s holiness.
St. John Vianney, popularly known as the Curé of Ars, was born on May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, France. He grew up in a time of open hostility to the Church in the wake of the French Revolution. As a young priest, he was assigned to lead the parish in the small farming community of Ars, France and became a devoted leader of the church there, earning notoriety for converting townspeople and serving their spiritual and charitable needs. He spent up to 18 hours a day hearing confessions from people all over Europe. It is believed that he welcomed up to 20,000 pilgrims each year who streamed to his confessional to “experience the love and mercy of God.”
He died on August 4, 1859, which is now his Feast Day of St John Vianney. Pope Pius XI canonized Vianney in 1925 and proclaimed him patron saint of parish priests in 1929. In 2009, he was deemed the patron saint of all priests.
The goal of the “Heart of a Priest” tour is to gather laypersons and professed religious together to pray and focus on their role in rebuilding the Church. “Moments like this are moments of profound graces that come from gathering together and praying. The effect of that grace is going to be something that continues to blossom and grow in the Church.”
The relic will be available for veneration in the Cure of Ars Chapel on the campus of St. John Vianney High School on Friday, March 15, from 8-11 a.m. All are welcome to come pray before our patron saint and school namesake.