This morning, we departed Lyon and traveled to Ars. Our first stop was at the Basilica of St. Jean Vianney (St John Baptist Marie Vianney), who was canonized in 1925. St. John Vianney, whose feast day is August 4, is the patron saint of parish priests. The Basilica is one of 8 permanent holy doors designated by the Holy See. St. John Vianney was 3 years old when the French Revolution, especially aimed against the Church, began. His parents were also very pious. As we have traveled around France and come to know several of these saints, there is one thing that they all have had in common. Each was blessed with parents and families who were faithful and passed that faith onto their children. This is a reminder to all of us to continue to pass our faith onto our children, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, nephews, and all that we have influence on.
At the basilica, we saw several relics of St. John Vianney, including his incorrupt body. We celebrated Mass at the Basilica and reflected on the blessings that all of us receive from our parish Priests. Today we especially remember and pray for Father John, Father Glen, Father Eric, Father Charles, Father Leo, and all the parish priests that nourish our souls and help us along our journey with Christ. We cherish you and the role you play in our lives.
After Mass, we visited the rest of the Basilica sites, including the house where St. John lived and died and then headed back to the bus for our journey to Paray Le Monial where we visited the shrine that is home to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is here that Christ appeared to Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque, choosing her to be the instrument by which God would lead the world back to Christ through His Sacred Heart. Jesus appeared to Sr. Margaret Mary a number of times between 1673 and 1675. After exploring this beautiful little town and the shrine and associated chapels and other churches, we got back on the bus and headed to Nevers, where we are spending the night. Many in the group were also able to do a quick walking tour of Nevers with our guide Gerard this evening.