The 'Heart of a Priest' nationwide relic tour of the incorrupt heart of St. Jean Vianney, the patron of parish priests, will make a stop at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck on May 28-29.
The relic will be available for public veneration from 5:30 p.m. on May 28 through the nighttime hours until noon on May 29.
The opening procession and Mass with Bishop Kagan will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by ongoing veneration. The sacrament of reconciliation will be offered from 6:30 p.m. through the night until noon the next day. Night prayer will be held at 9 p.m.
On Wednesday, May 29, the schedule will include Mass at 6:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. with the Divine Mercy Chaplet following the later Mass. A rosary will be prayed at 11:30 a.m. with the Litany of Saints to follow. The closing procession will be at noon.
About St. Jean Vianney
The relic and his body are kept at the Shrine of Ars in France. St. Jean Vianney was born in 1786 and served as a parish priest in the French town. He would spend as many as 18 hours a day hearing confessions from people who traveled from throughout Europe to see the priest because of his holiness and piety. He also had a great love of and fostered devotion to St. Philomena. He died in 1859. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925 and proclaimed him patron saint of parish priests in 1929.
The body of St. Jean Vianney was exhumed in the early 20 th
century for his beatification, and it was a surprise to those present that it was incorrupt. Some parts were then kept for veneration. Some might ask, 'why the heart?' Saint Jean Vianney is known for the countless hours he spent hearing confessions working to reconcile people with God. For St. Jean Vianney, the mission of the parish priest was to be the heart of the faithful community, to represent the forgiveness and love of Jesus. So, his heart truly defined the mission of a priest.
St. Jean Vianney would often say: 'Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.'
Considering the recent scandal within the Church, perhaps it is somewhat providential that this opportunity would arise to invoke the intercession of the patron of parish priests as we pray for our good and holy men serving the Diocese of Bismarck. It is a time for the faithful to gather as a community and venerate the relic of a humble saint who was the model of holiness and integrity. May it serve as a reminder that the Church is the fount of grace and the vehicle of salvation as we continue to pray for our priests and bishops to always follow in St. Jean Vianney's footsteps. It's also a time to pray for personal holiness to support our clergy and carry on their mission as the hands and feet of Christ.
Last year, The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit hosted the tour of the St. Padre Pio relics that drew a large crowd from across the diocese and beyond. The Catholic Church teaches that a relic-such as the heart of St. Jean Vianney-is offered to the faithful for veneration, but neither the relic nor the saint is worshipped. Veneration recognizes the fact that God has worked through the saint.
The Shrine of Ars, France, has made this major relic available for a national tour in the U.S. The Knights of Columbus are sponsoring this six-month national tour of the major relic of St. Jean Vianney's incorrupt heart through June 2019. For more information about St. Jean Vianney and the relic tour, visit www.kofc.org/vianney.
-Staff report with some information taken from www.kofc.org/vianney and catholiconline.com.