Knights of Columbus holding nationwide tour
LINCOLN (SNR) – The major relic of St. Jean Vianney’s incorrupt heart will be at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln March 20.
Bishop James Conley will celebrate Mass in the cathedral, 3500 Sheridan Blvd., at 10 a.m. Veneration will be held until 2 p.m.
Related: Who is St. John Vianney?
The Shrine of Ars, France, entrusted the relic to the Knights of Columbus for a national tour in the United States, now underway through early June 2019.
In Catholic tradition, a relic is an object associated with a saint that may be offered to the faithful for veneration. The soul of a saint is united with God in heaven, so an object associated with a saint is meant to draw a person closer to God. Neither the relic nor the saint is to be worshipped.
“A relic is venerated in recognition of the fact that God has worked through a saint, and that an object associated with a saint is holy and can lead us to God,” the Knights of Columbus website explains. “The healing power of relics comes from God alone and never from the object.
“Reference to an early form of relics can be found in the New Testament, when a women was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Mt 9:18-26) and when cloths touched by St. Paul were used to heal the sick and drive out demons (Acts 19:12).”
The website further explains that a more developed use of relics began during the persecution of the early Church, when the faithful would retrieve the bones of martyrs and place them under the altar for Mass. To this day, Catholic churches place first-class relics in altar stones.
The heart of St. Jean Vianney was taken from the saint’s body after his death in recognition of his burning love for God and humanity. It has remained intact, or incorrupt, for more than 150 years. The heart is encased in a 17th-century French reliquary.
St. Jean Vianney, also known as the “Curé of Ars,” or “pastor” of Ars, France, is the patron of parish priests. According to the Knights of Columbus website, it is especially meaningful for the Knights to host the relic of the patron of parish priests, since the Order was founded in 1882 by a holy parish priest, Father Michael McGivney. Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood is open at the Vatican, which has bestowed on him the title of Venerable, in recognition of his heroic virtue.
A painting, or religious icon, was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus for the tour. The original was painted by Italian iconographer Fabrizio Diomedi, and copies were made to accompany the relic.
A full schedule is available at www.kofc.org.
The Knights of Columbus are supporting the cost for the St. Jean Vianney Relic Pilgrimage. Donations made through the site will be sent to the St. Jean Vianney Shrine in Ars for capital improvement. The shrine is renovating its welcome center, and donations may be made at https://www.kofc.org.