D’Ars, Curé (1786–1859)
Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, a French minister of deep religious
beliefs and fervent faith whose life was replete with extraordinary
psychic manifestations. Vianney was born May 8,
1786, in Dardilly, a village near Lyons, France. Although a
poor student, who found it difficult to learn Latin and theology,
he was ordained a priest. He built chapels, homes for destitute
children and friendless women, and provided for the poor. He
did not have a penny in the world, yet he regularly maintained
more than 100 poor women and children, for help always
seemed to come in answer to his prayer.
Persons afflicted with disease soon began to experience sudden
cures while praying before the altar or making confessions
to the curé, or parish priest. According to the biographer Abbé
Monnin, upward of 20,000 persons came annually from Germany,
Italy, Belgium, all parts of France, and even from England
to be cured by him. His church was open day and night,
and immense crowds waited for hours and days. Omnibuses
were established to convey patients from Lyons to d’Ars, and
the Saone was covered with boats full of anxious pilgrims.
His powers of clairvoyance developed to such a degree it
was reported that by walking in the crowd he could tell the
names, connections, and circumstances of the patients as soon
as he cast his eye upon them.
For 35 years he was persecuted by violent poltergeist disturbances.
Loud knocks resounded at the gate, a storm of blows
descended upon the furniture, and sometimes there were
sounds as if a wild horse were rearing in the hall below his
room, striking the ceiling with its hoofs and stamping with all
four feet on the tiled floor. At other times a great flock of sheep
appeared to be passing above his head, or a gendarme seemed
to be ascending the stairs in heavy boots. He always expected
these disturbances when someone was on his way to seek consolation
from him and attributed it to the envy of the demons for
the good he was going to do. He said that once the devil
amused himself by pushing him about his chamber all night on
a bed on castors. The next day when he entered his confessional
he felt himself lifted up and tossed about as though he had
been in a boat on a rough sea.
According to William Howitt,
‘‘The truth probably is that M. Vianney had so reduced his
body by fasting, penance and enormous exertion, that he had
opened himself to all kinds of spiritual impressions, to which
the devil was sure to have his share. But most likely many of
these ghostly visitors were merely spirits of a low order who like
to amuse themselves, as they found the curé accessible to them.
Many, no doubt, like those who visited the Seeress of Prevorst,
would have been glad of his prayers, had he not been so completely
shut up on that head, by his catholic demonophobia.’’
Vianney died on August 4, 1859 in Ars, France. He was the
subject of a papal process beginning in 1862, as a result of
which he was declared venerable in 1872, blessed in 1905, canonized
in 1925, and declared heavenly patron for all parish
priests in 1929.
De Saint Pierre, Michel. The Remarkable Cure of Ars: The Life
and Achievement of St. John Marie Vianney. Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday, 1963.
Fourrey, René. The Curé D’Ars. London: Burns & Oates,
Trochu, Francis. The Curé D’Ars. London: Burns & Oates,
1936. Reprint, Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1950.
———. The Insight of the Cure D’Ars. London: Burns Oates
& Washburn, 1934.
Trouncer, Margaret. Miser of Souls. London: Hutchinson,