A role model for priests, St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney drew thousands of worshipers to his tiny village in France where he would hear confessions for hours on end.
He died in 1859 and was canonized in 1925. And, next month, the heart of Vianney, a world-famous relic, is expected to draw throngs of Catholics to Curé of Ars Church in Merrick for five days of veneration and celebration.
"It really is a historical moment for our country and our diocese," said the Rev. Charles Mangano, the pastor of Curé of Ars in Merrick, the first U.S. church to be named after the saint’s church in Ars. The Merrick church is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
The heart will leave France for only the second time. It was first taken to Rome for the saint’s canonization. It will be carried here by Bishop Guy Bagnard, bishop of Belley, Ars-France.
Mangano had asked for permission for the heart to come to the church last year while he was on a retreat in France, he said. A short time later, the Bishop agreed and Mangano received an e-mail confirming his request. The chalice used by Vianney also will be on display. The event starts Oct. 7.