Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia - Encyclical on the Priesthood - Pope John XXIII - Conclusion

Lourdes and Ars

114. There is no need to dwell on this point, Venerable Brothers, since what We are urging is very close to your own hearts. For We are sure that you understand perfectly Our interest in these things and the forceful expression We are giving to it, and that you share it. For the present, We commit this matter of immense importance, closely bound up with the salvation of many souls, to the intercession of St. John M. Vianney.

115. We also turn Our eyes to the Mother of God, immaculate from the very beginning. Shortly before the Cure of Ars, filled with heavenly merits, completed his long life, She appeared in another part of France to an innocent and humble girl, and through her, invited men with a mother's insistence to devote themselves to prayers and Christian penance; this majestic voice is still striking home to souls a century later, and echoing far and wide almost endlessly.

116. The things that were done and said by this holy priest, who was raised to the honors of the Heavenly Saints and whose 100th anniversary We are commemorating, cast a kind of heavenly light beforehand over the supernatural truths which were made known to the innocent girl at the grotto of Lourdes. For this man had such great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God that in 1836 he dedicated his parish church to Mary Conceived Without Sin and greeted the infallible definition of this truth as Catholic dogma in 1854 with the greatest joy and reverence. (103)

117. So there is good reason for Us to link together this double centenary, of Lourdes and of Ars, as We give proper thanks to the most high God: each supplements the other, and each does honor to a nation We love very much and which can boast of having both of these most holy places in its bosom.

118. Mindful of the many benefits that have been received, and trusting confidently that still more will come to Us and to the whole Church, We borrow the prayer that sounded so often on the lips of the Cure of Ars: "Blessed be the most holy and immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. May all nations praise, all lands invoke and preach your Immaculate Heart!" (104)

119. Confident that this centennial celebration of St. John M. Vianney throughout the world will stir up the pious zeal of priests and of those whom God is calling to take up the priesthood, and will make all the faithful even more active and interested in supplying the things that are needed for priests' life and work, with all Our heart We impart the Apostolic Blessing to each and every one of them, and especially to you, Venerable Brethren, as a consoling pledge of heavenly graces and of Our good will.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on August 1, 1959, the first year of Our Pontificate.


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