150-year-old heart of French priest on display in New York | News | DW | 06.04.2019
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150-year-old heart of French priest on display in New York

The heart of Saint Jean Vianney is on a six-month tour of the US. It has been on a pilgrimage that has thus far brought it to 28 states.

The 150-year-old heart of Saint Jean-Bapiste-Marie Vianney, also known in English as John Vianney, went on display in New York's St. Patrick's cathedral on Saturday. The organ has been on a pilgrimage that has thus far brought it to 28 states.

Born in France in 1786, Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests, and was noted during his life for reinvigorating religious spirit in the area of Ars, France, after the devastation wrought on the Catholic Church by the French Revolution. He was known to have heard confessions for up to 12 hours a day, and by the end of his life, his reputation for wisdom was so strong that he attracted international visitors seeking his advice.

The practice of venerating relics, which could be a personal affect or part of the remains of saint, goes back to the earliest days of the Church, and is even vaguely alluded to in the Hebrew Bible. Starting in the Middle Ages, it became common for Catholics to undertake pilgrimages to visit a particular saint's relic.

New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is set to lead a procession in honor of the relic on Sunday. The heart will return to Ars in June, where Vianney's preserved body is still on display.

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