rue Jean-Marie Vianney, Ars-sur-Formans (30 km north of Lyon), France [ Map ]
The shrine of Ars is a precinct of religious heritage relating to the Curé of Ars St Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), the patron saint of priests, who was renowned as a confessor and counsellor at Ars from 1818 to 1859. In the 1860’s, the Curé’s old church was incorporated into a larger Basilica building designed by Pierre Bossan (later architect of the famous Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière). The preserved remains of the Curé’s body are held in a glass casket in the Basilica. His heart is in the Chapel of the Heart (Chapelle du Coeur).
Eymard was a close friend of the Curé St Jean-Marie Vianney, who had strongly encouraged him in his desire to form religious congregations devoted to the eucharist. The Curé agreed to become a member of Eymard’s Third Order of Mary and he recognised Eymard as a ‘great saint’. In a meeting with Marguerite Guillot at Ars in 1858, the Curé said of Eymard’s work: ‘The world opposes and hinders it, and does not understand. But it will succeed; it will persevere’.
Shortly before the Curé’s death in 1859, Eymard visited him at Ars, precoccupied with the lack of vocations to his new religious order. Eymard made an emotional plea for the holy Curé’s prayers, somewhat pointedly reminding him: ‘You started me on this project . . .’
It was a cry from the Cross, and the Curé cried on hearing Eymard’s words. And then the wise old priest reminded Eymard that he did not need his prayers to God.
‘You yourself, you have him’, the Curé said. ‘You have him always before you!’
The two men embraced. It was the last time that Eymard ever saw his friend alive.
Map of the Shrine of Ars [French]