St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo honors the heart of St. John Vianney

by Paul Braun | New Earth

Fargo Diocese seminarian Taylor Ternes of Devils Lake venerates the heart of St. John Vianney at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo. (Paul Braun | New Earth)

The faithful started to gather at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo just before 6 p.m. on May 29. They were there to see something very rare in North Dakota: a first-class relic of a saint.

The incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney made a stop in Fargo on May 29 and 30 as part of a nationwide tour sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. St. John Vianney was a French priest, and is considered the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to as the “Curé d'Ars” (the parish priest of Ars), internationally known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, France. St. John Vianney’s body is on display in Ars.

Several hundred people passed or knelt in veneration as his heart was displayed, first at Our Lady of Guadalupe Adoration Chapel at the cathedral and then in the cathedral itself. Bishop John Folda celebrated the noon Mass on May 30 in honor of the relic’s presence. The Mass also served as the 120th anniversary of St. Mary’s Cathedral dedication.

A relic is something connected with a saint or blessed, including a part of their body such as hair or a piece of bone, their clothing, or an object that the person used or touched. Just as people are drawn closer to God through the lives of holy people, so too the Catholic Church believes that God continues his work even after their deaths. Veneration of relics is intended to inspire the faithful to seek the prayers of that saint and to beg, by God’s grace, to live similarly faith-filled lives. It is also a profession of belief in the Catholic doctrines of eternal life and the resurrection of the body.