England to welcome St John Vianney’s heart

England to welcome the heart of Curé d’Ars

A Knights of Columbus honour guard processes with a reliquary containing the incorrupt heart of St John Vianney (Photo: CNS)


The heart of the patron saint of priests, St John Vianney, will be venerated in the Diocese of Shrewsbury next summer.

In 1818 St John Vianney was made the curé of Ars parish in the west of France, where he became famous for his pastoral work. He was canonised in 1925 by Pius XI.

The three intentions of the four-day visit of the relic are to provide an occasion of prayer for the renewal of the ministerial priesthood in the diocese, to inspire new and generous vocations, and to spur the renewal of the missions and life of all parishes in the diocese.

The precise programme will be unveiled closer to the visit but the relic is expected to visit several locations across Shrewsbury diocese to maximise the opportunity for prayer and veneration among lay people and priests.

Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France, and two priests of his diocese will accompany the relics.
The visit follows a request by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, who petitioned Bishop Bagnard in September when he and his clergy visited Ars. Bishop Bagnard later wrote to Bishop Davies to confirm that the heart of St John Vianney could be transported to Shrewsbury.

Bishop Davies spoke of his joy on hearing the news of the relics planned arrival in England. He said: “I am delighted we can welcome this relic of St John Vianney to England. The Scriptures speak of the saints as those ‘witnesses’ who encourage us in our faith. This visible reminder of the heart of a simple and extraordinary pastor will encourage us to look to that love and truth found at the heart of the Catholic priesthood, for St John Vianney said simply: ‘The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.’

“This will be an invitation for everyone to pray for the renewal of the ministerial priesthood in our time, a renewed sense of mission in our parishes and for new and generous vocations for the future.”

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16 Responses to England to welcome St John Vianney’s heart

  1. toadspittle says:


    What difference does it make whether the heart is ‘corrupt’ or not? What does it mean for a heart to be ‘incorrupt’ anyway? Is it still wet and soft?
    The underlying implication seems to be that something that somehow “evades” the normal processes of nature, “returning to dust,” in this case – is somehow privileged.
    Is this so? And if it is, why?
    More than a hint of preserving the bodies of Stalin and Lenin here, thinks Toad.


  2. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    “Bishop Guy Bernard of Belley- Ars, France will accompany the relics.”

    Bishop Guy is an appropriate and indeed obvious choice to accompany the sacred body parts.


  3. toadspittle says:


    Belley-Ars – neither one thing nor the other, really.


  4. kathleen says:

    Sadly Shrewsbury is far away from where I live.

    Bishop Davies is earning a reputation as a truly faithful orthodox bishop, and a very saintly man. See this post on Fr Tim’s blog about a homily he gave on the holy priesthood a few days ago:


  5. kathleen says:

    I’ll try to answer your questions about incorruptibility……..
    It seems there are three sorts: those that are accidentally preserved (such as bodies which have been buried in dry, hot sand, or frozen in ice), those who have been deliberately preserved, and thirdly, incorruptibles.
    Yes, you are right to assume that: “The underlying implication seems to be that something that somehow “evades” the normal processes of nature, “returning to dust,” in this case – is somehow privileged.” Of course that is allowing that no measures like embalming have been undertaken which would be a clear explanation of why the body had not corrupted e.g. in the case of Lenin.

    Although it is a rare phenomena (and not all saints’ bodies are discovered to be incorrupt by any means), it could imply that the avoidance of decay and corruption, could be given as a sign of their holiness. Naturally, all incorrupt ‘presumed’ saints would still have to go through the processes of scrutiny by the Congregation of Saints before being declared so.

    One thing I was amazed to discover though when looking into this was the fact that for each incorrupt body discovered, after research has been done to determine who the person was, it has always been determined that the person was an extremely devout Catholic !!! Now that’s something to muse over.


  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Lenin of course was hugely stuffed with chemicals, in a communist heresy invoking the cult of personality. What fakes they were. Lenin’s relics are not in the running here, though he was a secular saint.

    But there is one major concern which arises from the Vianney translation. When the group carrying the relic arrives at a UK port and HM Customs wishes to inspect the container, and if they then find that it is a human heart which is fresh and uncorrupted, then the party may be arrested on suspicion of trading in body parts or worse.

    It will be futile to say without proof that is the uncorrupted heart of a saint of the 1800s. They may not, will not be believed, and may face long prison terms unless they can prove that this fresh heart is actually from the 1800s; not an easy task.

    It could be a case of faith and belief against law and medicine.

    It could prove to be a turning point in the debate over Faith v Science.


  7. toadspittle says:


    Perhaps Richard Dawkins can be called as a witness for the defence?
    He is a biologist as we know.

    …for each incorrupt body discovered, after research has been done to determine who the person was, it has always been determined that the person was an extremely devout Catholic !!!
    That’s fascinating, Kathleen. So when they dig a mastodon out of a frozen Seberian swamp, they will know it was a Catholic and, moreover an extremely devout one!!!.
    (But they may guess that from the rosary beads, anyway.)


  8. kathleen says:

    No Toad…… the ‘mastodon’ would fall into the first category I described above, i.e. those that are ‘accidentally preserved’. The Ice Man discovered a few years ago (that Italy and Austria had a tussle over to claim) is a good example.
    (Perhaps the poor old Ice Man was saintly too – who knows? ;-))

    Besides, haven’t we established that animals, lovely though they are, don’t have souls ?……… Sigh


  9. toadspittle says:


    If Toad’s dogs don’t have souls, he doesn’t want one either.


  10. rebrites says:

    Dogs may or may not have souls, but everyone knows All Dogs Go to Heaven.
    Just like everybody knows
    got no souls.


  11. Chris Sullivan says:

    Aquinas was firmly of the view that dogs, and animals in general, have souls.

    But what would St Thomas Aquinas know about True, Orthodox, Faithful Catholicism of the Pure and Simple type ?.

    God Bless


  12. toadspittle says:


    There is always the notion that there might be “beings” in Heaven without souls.
    Mastodons, even.

    Which raises the question of whether Americans will be allowed to take their guns and flags there. If not, they may not want to go.


  13. LeonG says:

    Americans do not need to worry about whether or not there will be guns aloowed in Heaven since some canons have been permitted already.


  14. toadspittle says:


    The question is Leon, will Americans take kindly to being asked by Saint Peter to park their
    shootin’ irons outside the Pearly Gates – like cowboys had to do in saloons in the “Wild West?”
    The NRA wouldn’t be a bit pleased. Even if Heaven really is “God’s Own Country.”
    And, no doubt, has a nice flag of its own.

    Toad thinks that, sadly, they won’t take it kindly.

    But what do Americans have to say? Toad doesn’t even know if LeonB is one.
    Deepest apologies if he is not.


  15. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes K, the Ice Man. It seems that he was on the run and had wounds fresh enough to be caused at the time of his flight from the lower levels up into the mountains.

    But you raise a point. I believe that the Ice Man is about 5000 years old. Do you think he had a soul? I think so.

    I know you have gone through the animal/soul issue before, but I cannot imagine God’s creatures so innocent (and however lethal), from bedbug to tiger, have no soul or place in heaven.

    “What Immortal hand or eye
    could frame thy fearful symettry?”

    Ole Billy Blake knew a thing or two…

    Is this mere sentimentaily?


  16. Gertrude says:

    Belatedly entering the ‘do animals have souls’ – I sincerely hope that the God who saw even the smallest sparrow fall will welcome the other creatures of His creation. I’m with Thomas Aquinas on this one!
    Chris Sullivan: I hope your comment was one of irony 😉 What would any of us know (even on CP&S) when compared with the wisdom, erudition and holiness of Thomas Aquinas?


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