St. John Vianney is on tour! But how can he be on tour? He’s dead!
Ah, the power of sainthood and incorruptibility.
One of the weird and cool things about the Catholic Church is that many of its saints are incorruptible, meaning that although they died many years ago, their bodies (or parts of their bodies) never decayed and remain relatively intact. These parts of a saint are known as first-class relics. A second-class relic is an item that the saint used often in his lifetime, such as a rosary or a prayer book. A third-class relic is an item that was touched to a first- or second-class relic.
St. John (Jean) Vianney, a French priest who is the patron of parish priests worldwide, is one of the “incorruptibles.” He died in 1859, so you’d think every bit of his earthly remains would have crumbled into dust by now. But his heart is incorrupt and recently traveled the country in a glass reliquary guarded by the Knights of Columbus. (And they had swords. How awesome is that?)
St. John Vianney’s incorruptible heart visited a parish near us on Memorial Day weekend, so being the huge Catholic fanboys we are, my husband and I were going to go, but I ended up staying home with the baby instead.
From what my husband said, the church was crowded with visitors from all over who wanted to venerate the incorruptible heart and ask the saint for intercession and for a resurgence of vocations to the priesthood.
I was sad to have missed the event, but my Miraculous Medal was touched to the relic and is now a third-class relic itself. However, a third-class relic is only as good as the faith of its owner, so to gain any benefit from it, I need to continually improve my faith.