Saint John Vianney


Saint John Vianney, 1786–1859
August 4

Saint John Vianney found school difficult. He had a very hard time with Latin. Because of that, he almost wasn’t allowed to become a priest. But he was so good and kind, he was finally ordained. He became the priest of a small church in a French town called Ars. John had a special gift of knowing exactly what to say to people who confessed their sins. Within a few years, thousands of people would come to Ars just to go to confession. John often spent sixteen hours a day hearing confessions and counseling people on how to be closer to God.

Discuss: How do you prepare to go to confession?

Saint John Vianney founded an orphanage for destitute girls called "The Providence" which was the model for similar institutions established later all over France. He catechized the children of “The Providence,” and his lessons became so popular that they eventually had to be moved to the church to accommodate the large crowds that would show up to learn.

In 1855, the number of pilgrims that came to learn from him had reached twenty thousand a year. His miracles included obtaining money for his charities and food for his orphans, supernatural knowledge of the past and future, and healing the sick, especially children.

Saint John Vianney is the patron Saint of priests, and led a very austere life. Sometimes all he would eat for dinner was a boiled potato!


Explain to the child that Saint John Vianney understood the importance and consequences of confession. Give the child an opportunity to discuss the reason for and the consequence of confession.

  • Why is it important to go to confession?
  • What are the consequences?
  • What is expected from the priest?
  • Why do you think people don’t want to go to confession?
  • What does being absolved mean?
  • Do you feel closer to God after confession?

Write their responses down and discuss with the student book as a resource.