Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Vianney relic at heart of vocation pitch.

The Boston Globe reports today on an interesting new venture in vocation promotion:

The heart of a revered 19th-century clergyman is being brought to New York and Boston from its resting place in Ars, France, in hopes that veneration of the relic will inspire more men to join the depleted ranks of the Roman Catholic priesthood.

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, died in 1859. His heart, enclosed in a glass case, is being brought to the United States by Bishop Guy Bagnard of the Diocese of Belley-Ars. After five days at a church on Long Island, it will be brought to the Archdiocese of Boston for veneration and prayer at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, St. Mary's Parish in Waltham, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End. Many of the events will be open to the public.

. . .

"We bring him to Boston in the hope that his life and deeds will be an inspiration to our parish priests and an inspiration to others to consider whether they are being called to serve as priests in our parishes," Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said Friday in a telephone interview from Rome. "The heart of St. John Vianney is a symbol of his great love for God and the people he served."

According to the Globe, this will be the first trip that Vianney's heart has taken outside of France since it was brought to Rome for the saint's canonization in 1925. Normally, the heart is preserved together with Vianney's incorrupt remains at the Sanctuaire d'Ars in the saint's hometown. Prior to reading the Globe article, I didn't know that Vianney was one of the incorruptible saints - a group that also includes such luminaries as St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Francis Xavier, and Bl. John XXIII. Some readers may be bemused by the fact that Vianney's heart is preserved outside his body, but this has also been done in other cases. When I heard about Vianney's heart, I immediately thought of Bl. André Bessette, the Holy Cross Brother who was regarded as a living saint in early 2oth-century Québec on account of the miraculous cures and other fortuitous events said to have come about through his prayers. Brother André's heart is now on display at the Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal, the Montreal shrine that the humble but determined brother built to honor his patron. Every time I've visited Montreal, I've stopped in at the Oratory, and I've always wondered how the decision was made to put Brother André's heart on display for the veneration of the faithful. Now I wonder whether this move was inspired by the example of Vianney and the other saints whose hearts have attracted particular devotion as relics. Though I won't be in Boston when Vianney's heart passes through, I may go to see the relic on Long Island. If I do so, I'll be motivated not simply by devotion but by curiosity as well. AMDG.


At 10/11/2006 12:50 AM, Blogger Leticia said...

I was there today,at the veneration of St. John Vianney's heart. It was VERY powerful, and the crowds were massive, but reverent. I sensed a presence more than that of the Holy Eucharist,(not greater mind you, just additional.It truly moved me, and my teenage daughter. I'm going for the closing mass tomorrow, and brining my mother.


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