.- The heart of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, will be brought to New York and Boston from France this month, in hopes that veneration of the relic will inspire current priests in their ministry and inspire other men to join the priesthood.
His heart is enclosed in a glass case, and Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, where the saint served and died, is bringing it to the United States in its second-ever tour outside of France. The first time was for the saint’s canonization in 1925.
The relic will begin its tour on Long Island Oct. 7. It will then be in the Archdiocese of Boston, from Oct. 12 to 14, at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, St. Mary's Parish in Waltham, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.
“We bring him to Boston in the hope that his life and deeds will be an inspiration to our parish priests and an inspiration to others to consider whether they are being called to serve as priests in our parishes,” Cardinal Sean O'Malley told the Boston Globe Friday in a telephone interview from Rome. “The heart of St. John Vianney is a symbol of his great love of God and of the people he served."
Relics serve as reminders of the saints' holiness and as encouragement for others to emulate the saints' behavior, Cardinal O'Malley reportedly explained.
St. John Vianney died in 1859 and was renowned for deep devotion to priestly duties of priests and was a renowned confessor. He was believed to possess healing powers and the ability to read the hearts of penitents. According to church records, he often spent more than 16 hours a day listening to confessions.
St. John Vianney is also one of at least 20 saints whose bodies have not decomposed following death. When his body was exhumed in the early 20th century, prior to his beatification in 1905, his heart was removed. His body remains in the complex of church buildings that has been developed around his original parish church.