Saint Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was born in Dardilly, France, in 1786. He grew up in a farm, with little formal education, but within the bosom of a faith filled home. He had much difficulty in learning and, therefore, struggled in his studies to become a priest. However, through patience, perseverance and much prayer he was able to finish his training and be ordained. After serving as an assistant priest in Ecully for a few years, he was appointed parish priest at the parish of Ars. On his way to the village, Saint Vianney got lost but was helped by a young shepherd who showed him the way. In return for the favour, the saint told the boy he would point him the way to Heaven.
In Ars, Saint Vianney laboured till his death at the age of 73. He lived a life of great austerity, eating very little, mostly potatoes, and hardly sleeping, offering his sacrifices for the salvation of his flock and for the love of God. He had the gift of reading souls and a knowledge of future and past events, so that people would flock to him from all over France, and beyond, in order to have him hear their confession. He spent much of his time in the confessional, often up to 16 hours a day. He also did battle with the devil who would harass him in different ways, such as making noises at night to prevent him from sleeping or dragging his bed around while he lay on it.
Saint Jean Vianney passed away in the middle of a stormy night, in 1859, accompanied by the bishop, after receiving the last sacraments. In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared him patron-saint of parish priests.