This is a fascinating and surprisingly readable (but lengthy) biography of St. John Vianney - the definitive one, carefully researched from the documents produced for the canonization process. It is most suitable for adults, but will be appropriate for teens who enjoy reading - it is particularly beneficial for young men considering the priesthood. Some of the particular stories about St. John Vianney and those whose lives he touched are absolutely amazing.
This book also bears a special recommendation from Pope John Paul II and had a substantial influence on his life. He had this to say about St. John Vianney and this particular book in his own book Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination...
"With great emotion I visited the little old church where Saint John Vianney heard confessions, taught catechism, and gave his homilies. It was an unforgettable experience for me. From my seminary years I had been impressed by the figure of the Cure d'Ars, especially after reading his biography by Monsignor Trochu. Saint John Marie Vianney astonishes us because in him we can see the power of grace working through human limitations. It was his heroic service in the confessional which particularly struck me. That humble priest, who would hear confessions more than ten hours a day, eating little and sleeping only a few hours, was able, at a difficult moment in history, to inspire a kind of spiritual revolution in France..." (pp. 57, Gift and Mystery by Pope John Paul II)
Although this is a bit longer than some of the other Saint stories by the same author, my children have been enjoying this story very much as a read-aloud. The story is told in the first person - from the point of view of St. John Vianney himself. (My children have particularly enjoyed this perspective and found it a nice change from the ordinary.) The author also weaves a great deal of thoughtful commentary upon the importance and mystery of priesthood into the story as well as important concepts about the love of God and the need for prayer and penance. It is just the sort of book that could inspire a young boy to consider a priestly vocation in his future.
This is a quicker and slightly easier read than the title by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. It lacks the richness of explanations about the priesthood, but I thought that it portrayed St. John Vianney's humility and simplicity a little more clearly. It's also clearly written to be interesting even to those who are not accustomed to reading saint stories, so there is more emphasis on exciting events, such as when John Vianney, as a young boy, helped to hide a hunted priest from the authorities.
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St. Francis of Assisi
Books about Education
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