The Humble Prayer of the Curé d’Ars
‘I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life.’
On Aug. 4, Catholics celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney, the humble French cleric who became the patron of priests.
Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was born in 1786 and died Aug. 4, 1859. His parents, devout Catholics, were forced to drive great distances from their home in Dardilly (near Lyon) to secretly attend Mass in the countryside, since the liturgy was illegal in France during the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution. The young Jean received his First Communion in a neighbor’s kitchen, with the windows covered so that the flickering candles could not be seen from the outside.
The harsh restrictions imposed during the French Revolution meant that his education had to be interrupted. When he was finally able to resume his studies at a presbytery-school, he struggled with all of his subjects, but especially with Latin. He had a deep desire to enter the priesthood, but he twice failed the seminary exams that were required before ordination.
Once he finally passed his exams and was ordained to the priesthood, Father Vianney was named pastor of a small church in the remote hamlet of Ars. There his saintly example, his inspired preaching and his persevering ministry in the sacrament of Confession, brought souls to Christ, and his entire community was radically transformed. News of his ministry spread, and people from around the world sought his counsel in the confessional. As many as 20,000 pilgrims a year traveled to Ars, hoping that the saint would hear their confession, and he spent 12 hours a day (and 16 hours a day during the summer months) in the confessional.
It is believed that occasionally, the bodies of certain saints have been preserved by God from decay. St. John Vianney died in 1859, and the confessor’s body was exhumed and found incorrupt in 1904. His body remains on display in a glass casket above the altar in the Basilica of Ars.
He was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 31, 1925.
I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life.
I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you.
I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.