Five Insights on Death and Dying From St. John Vianney

The patron saint of parish priests, St. Jean Vianney grew up in the anti-Catholic persecution of revolutionary France. He began his studies when the Church was legalized in 1802, but those studies were interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon’s army, from which he deserted. He was finally ordained in 1815, at the age of thirty-one.

He became the cure d’Ars, the curate or priest of the village of Ars, in 1818. He could spent half the day or more in the confessional. Concerned for the worldly life of his people, he was very strict in his giving absolution. He refused it for people who would not give up dancing, for example. His fame and gifts as a confessor brought perhaps 20,000 pilgrims to the village. St. Jean was also a friend of the poor.

He served as the Cure D’Ars till his death in 1859, though he tried to leave four times to become a monk. He was sainted in 1925. His feast is celebrated on August 4th.


Life and Death

Life is given us that we may learn to die well.

The Moment of Death

A day will come, perhaps it is not far off, when we must bid adieu to life, adieu to the world, adieu to our relations, adieu to our friends. When shall we return, my children? Never. We appear upon this earth, we disappear, and we return no more; our poor body, that we take such care of, goes away into dust, and our soul, all trembling, goes to appear before the good God.

Life Before Death

Some people pass their whole life without thinking of death. It comes, and behold! they have nothing; faith, hope, and love, all are already dead within them. When death shall come upon us, of what use will three-quarters of our life have been to us? With what are we occupied the greatest part of our time? Are we thinking of the good God, of our salvation, of our soul?

The idea that one can live in sin and give it all up one day is one of the Devil’s traps which will cause you to lose your soul as it has caused so many others to lose theirs.

The Good Thief

The good God does not wish us to despair. He shows us the good thief, touched with repentance, dying near Him on the cross.

Dying Well

See, my children, to die well we must live well; to live well, we must seriously examine ourselves: every evening think over what we have done during the day; at the end of each week review what we have done during the week; at the end of each month review what we have done during the month; at the end of the year, what we have done during the year. By this means, my children, we cannot fail to correct ourselves, and to become fervent Christians in a short time. Then, when death comes, we are quite ready; we are happy to go to Heaven.


The quotes are taken from his “On Death” and “On Bad Death.”


The photo comes from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Paris, which placed it in the public domain.

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