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Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria hosts St. John Vianney relic

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People approached the relic of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars and patron saint of priests, with prayers for priests and other personal intentions. Many handed rosaries to the Knight of Columbus guarding the reliquary so he could touch them to the reliquary. 

The Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria hosts the incorruptible heart of St. John Vianney Jan. 15-16 as part of its national tour. It is the only known stop in the Diocese of Arlington.

The relic made its first appearance at the basilica prior to the Jan. 15 6:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Father Kevin Barnekow, a priest in residence at the basilica. The relic was venerated by students and staff at the Basilica School of St. Mary, and there is a Holy Hour to pray for clergy and an increase in priestly vocations.

During his homily, Father Barnekow talked about the relic. “It has been preserved as a special gift of that great saint whose affection was unwavering and his will was always upon the God,” he said. “By venerating him we may imitate the way he responded so generously to the words God spoke to him, the same words that are spoken to all of us.”

Following Mass, several people came to venerate the relic.

The U.S. tour, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, began in November and will continue through early June. The relic was on display in December at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said in statement that St. John Vianney offers an example to help the church heal and rebuild.

"We now welcome as providential this opportunity to invoke the intercession of the patron saint of parish priests, whose holiness and integrity is a singular model for clergy," Anderson said in his statement.

“I’ve often asked for the intercession of St. Vianney,” said parishioner Reina DuVal. “I never thought I’d be able to see this. It is quite a miracle. The priests need a lot of prayers, so this is a good way for all of us laity to participate in this.”

Parishioner Michael Piotrowicz said it was a great privilege to see the relic. “It helps us see the life of the saints and know more about them,” he said. “It’s a nice sign from God to show us his message.”

Linda Loffredo, a parishioner, recognized the timeliness of this visit. “To pray to such a faithful servant and pray for all of our priests at this time, it’s something we can do to help the situation.” 

If you go

Basilica of St. Mary, 310 South Royal St., Alexandria, Jan. 15-16.

Go to stmaryoldtown.org/vianneyheart or call 703/836-4100.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019