Born to a farm family and a man of little education, John was not a very good student, and his Latin was terrible. It took him several years of study to finally get ordained as a priest. Three years later, he was assigned to a parish in a tiny village which had very lax attendance.

Father John began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor, and spent days in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, did penance for his parishioners, and leading his people by example.

Today John Mary Vianney is known as the patron saint for diocesan priests and confessors. Come Jun 19, Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim him as patron saint of all priests of the world at the inauguration of the Year For Priests to be held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The theme for the year, during which the 150th death anniversary of St. John Vianney will be celebrated on Aug 4, is “Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests”. Celebrations include the publication of a directory for confessors and spiritual directors, and a collection of texts by the pope on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

According to the press release published by Vatican Information Services on Mar 16, the aims of this Year For Priests are “to promote and coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians”.

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