Major Relic of St. John Vianney coming to Benedictine College on March 18, 2019

Major Relic of St. John Vianney coming to Benedictine College on March 18

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Icon of St. John VianneyThe heart of St. John Vianney will be available for veneration on March 18 beginning with the 12:10 p.m. Mass and until 10:00 p.m. in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church on the campus of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. The relic is housed in a special container, called a reliquary, and will be visible to the faithful in the front of the Abbey Church.


Benedictine College will be part of the Knights of Columbus’ national tour of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. Benedictine College Ministry and St. Benedict’s Abbey have joined with the Knights of Columbus to bring this first-degree relic to Atchison as part of the national pilgrimage.

“The story of St. John Vianney emphasizes how God often accomplishes great things though the simple, humble lives of those living out their daily vocation to love Him and their neighbor,” said Kevin Brown, Director of College Ministry at Benedictine.

Vianney had been a poor farmer and shepherd. He did not begin his formal education until he was 20. He struggled with his studies at seminary and repeatedly failed his Latin exams. He was finally ordained when he was 30, but the bishop considered him incompetent and assigned him to Ars, a small country village where little would be expected of him. But he was noted for his dedication to the poor, his counseling to those in need, and for founding an orphanage for girls. He was a model of priestly generosity, purity and prayerfulness. He changed the town and ultimately became a saint.

Pope John XXIII wrote in his encyclical, Sacerdotii nostri primordia, written in 1959 for the 100th anniversary of St. Vianney’s death, that the “Pastor of Ars” lived a life of great penance, whose “only motives were the love of God and the desire for the salvation of the souls of his neighbors.”

The pope also highlighted St. Vianney’s prayer life and devotion to the Eucharist, as well as his commitment to the Sacrament of Confession. He was known for hearing confessions for up to 18 hours a day as people would travel from across Europe to see him.

The Knights of Columbus announced the national relic pilgrimage last August and it will run through the spring of 2019, with stops across the United States. The tour has been dubbed “Heart of a Priest,” which refers to the physical heart of St. John Vianney that has resisted decay for more than 150 years and to the good character that should belong to every priest.

Learn more about the relic pilgrimage and St. John Vianney at

About Relics

In Catholic tradition, a relic is a physical object associated with a saint that may be offered to the faithful for veneration. Neither the relic nor the saint are to be worshipped, but are rather venerated as holy objects in recognition of the fact that God has worked through the saint. A major or first-class relic was part of the saint’s body as opposed to something the saint touched or wore. The term “incorrupt” refers to a human body that has avoided the normal process of decomposition after death. It is a sign — but not a proof — of the person’s holiness, and is sometimes seen in Catholic saints and blesseds.

About Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

About St. Benedict’s Abbey

St. Benedict's Abbey is a Catholic, Benedictine monastery located in Atchison, Kansas. Founded in 1857, the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey live according to the Rule of St. Benedict, praying and working for the glory of God and the good of the world. Education is the primary apostolate of the monks. They co-sponsor Benedictine College and Maur Hill-Mount Academy.  The monks also serve the people of Northeast Kansas as Pastors, Chaplains, and much more.