St. John Vianney: The Curé de Ars Early Life Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, known as John in English, was born on May 8, 1786, in Dardilly, France, and was baptized the same day. He was the fourth of six children born to Matthieu and Marie Vianney, poor peasants with a strong faith'
John was raised in a Catholic home, and the family often helped the poor and housed St. Benedict Joseph Labre when he made his pilgrimage to Rome. His childhood was marked by the tragic events of the French Revolution. While the Jacobins, supported by the Freemasons, were organizing the hunt for priests and sending them and their faithful to the guillotine, Jean-Marie was studying catechism in secret, with the help of two nuns who lost their convents to the Revolution, and fell hopelessly in love with Jesus.
The Crucified One must indeed deserve all, the young man thought, if so many thousands of youth and adults, priests and lay people were giving their lives for him, tolerating even the most atrocious torture. At 13-years-old, John made his first communion and prepared for his confirmation in secrecy.
In 1790, when the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution forced priests to work in secrecy or face execution, young Vianney believed the priests were heroes and continued to believe throughout his life in the bravery of priests. In 1802, the Catholic Church was reestablished in France and religious freedom and peace spread throughout the country.