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Saint’s heart returns to France

By on Monday, 9 July 2012

Vigil at the Invocation discernment festival, Oscott College (Photo: Mazur/

Vigil at the Invocation discernment festival, Oscott College (Photo: Mazur/

The heart of St John Vianney returns to France today after being venerated by thousands of people in the Midlands and north of England during its four-day visit.

On Friday Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool asked Catholics venerating the heart of the patron saint of parish priests at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King to pray for priests and priestly vocations.

The relic was taken to St Michael’s and All Angels, Woodchurch, Wirral, on Friday afternoon, then to St Wilfrid’s Church, Northwich, Cheshire, for morning prayer on Saturday, and on to Shrewsbury Cathedral for a Mass in the afternoon.

From there it was taken to St Mary’s College, Oscott, for Invocation, a national discernment festival, for Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Later in the afternoon the relic was on display for public veneration.

Before it arrived at Oscott Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury told some 300 young adults that the relic symbolises “a heart given completely in love”. He said that the heart is a metaphor for the “decisive centre of our being”. Everyone is called by God to a vocation, he said, so that, in the words of the Blessed Pope John Paul II, they might give their lives away “to something noble, give them to something great”.

“The heart is that which God alone knows and searches. It is where the love of God is poured, and where humanity is made new by being given a ‘new heart’. Indeed, Pope Benedict has spoken of this relic of St John Vianney’s heart as symbolising a heart consumed by Divine Love,” the bishop said.

“Relics are a tangible, visible, human connection with the saints and they were brought by the first missionaries to the English people to awaken the hope of holiness. From Westminster Abbey to Durham Cathedral across the length and breath of this land the relics of the saints offered this same encouragement, invited prayer, were an invitation to continued conversion.”

In preparation for the arrival at Oscott of the relic of “a saint, of a priest, of a parish priest, who belongs to us all in the Church in what we call the communion of saints”, Bishop Davies said: “It is the saints who generation after generation continue to inspire us, their testimony never growing tired, never growing old.”

  • daclamat

    Give it decent burial and give up this indecent practice.

  • Nat_ons

    Thank the good Lord for the communion of saints, their relics and the custom of translating their remains. It is so completely counter-cultural today as to be almost deserving of being hip (no pun on body parts intended) – it confronts the modern horror of death, the dead and even the process of dying. Not for our own times alone but through Christian history the reverence for the human body as something sacrosanct is well marked in such memorials, not just for a living, independent, ‘personal’ identity sic but for man per se from conception to corpse .. each with its own special but distinct and absolute worth – to the Christian (and to some extent for our Jewish brothers et al).

    “Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.” Martyrdom of Polycarp.

    It is not the mortal flesh, the place of burial, the material reliquary that the faithful perceive as empowering – even as a memory, which an icon can represent. Rather it is the Holy Ghost, the same who fills the whole body of Christ in all its members, who is at work. Pray always, therefore, in the Spirit and no flesh-  living, dying, or in  - can be a barrier to the divine purpose (or the Orthodox Catholic understanding of death).

    On St. Babylas (St. John Chrysostom)

  • linda

    such love and peace was my experance as our lord poured out graces in church as we honoured a humbel saint that was very faithful to our lord linda

  • Honeybadger

    Wind your neck in, troll!

  • hongshaoyu