Relic of Saint John Vianney to visit Utah
Friday, Mar. 22, 2019
CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn
Worshippers kneel in prayer as a member of the Knights of Columbus adjusts items around the reliquary containing St. John Vianney's incorrupt heart Dec. 10 in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The incorrupt heart of Saint John Vianney, also known as the Curé of Ars, will be in Utah on Friday, March 29 as part of a nationwide tour sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), a French priest, is known in English as St. John Vianney. In 1925, he was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who named him the patron saint of parish priests worldwide in 1929. St. John Vianney served as the pastor of the parish of Ars, France for 37 years. He was known for his piety and commitment to personal penance.
Later in his ministry, he heard Confessions for 12 hours each day in the winter and 16 hours during the summer months. He was also very devoted to the Virgin Mary and to St. Philomena and established La Providence, a home for girls, with Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet.
The relic will visit the Carmelite monastery in Holladay for a private showing for the nuns that morning. It will be on display at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 3015 E. Creek Road, Cottonwood Heights, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
During the veneration, members of the faithful may touch the reliquary with holy cards, rosaries and other appropriate objects, thus designating the items as second-class relics.
As part of the event, Father John Evans, pastor, will offer the Sacrament of Confession from 4 to 6 p.m. There will be a presentation on St. John Vianney’s life at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, they will have Stations of the Cross. Confessions will follow the Stations until 9 p.m.
Having the relic visit Utah “is a rare opportunity,” Fr. Evans said. “St. John Vianney was such a spiritual healer, especially in Confession. This is an opportunity for the faithful here to experience it.”
Many church altars have relics placed within them. For example, embedded in the altar at the Cathedral of the Madeleine are relics of two saints; they are of St. Fenusta, an early Roman martyr who was buried in the catacombs, and of St. Gratus of Aosta in Piedmont, Northern Italy. There are also two reliquaries in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. One is reputed to contain a first-class relic of St. Mary Magdalene and the other is reputed to contain a sliver of the true cross found by St. Helena, mother of Constantine.
People in St. Thomas More Parish are looking forward to the relic coming, Fr. Evans said.
Peter Sonski, a Knight who is traveling with the relic, reached out to Fr. Evans through his seminary classmate Fr. Jonathan Kalish, director of chaplains and spiritual development for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in Connecticut, to see if he would facilitate a stop in Utah.
“The relic pilgrimage is an opportunity for the faithful in the U.S. to pray with the heart of John Vianney, to pray for priests, for bishops, to pray for the Church and to pray for themselves,” Sonski said.
Having John Vianney’s heart in Utah during Lent is a blessing, he said.
“John Vianney lived a very austere life, dedicated to prayer and personal penance,” he said. “During the Lenten season we are more focused on prayer and on almsgiving and personal penance; we can follow the example of John Vianney in this penitential season.”
The Knights of Columbus tour, which includes more than 85 parishes across the United States and some non-public events, began in November and will finish in June. The relic has been on loan from the Shrine of Ars. The Knights of Columbus are covering all the costs for the tour.