Relic Pilgrimage Brought Large Crowds to Saint Catherine of Siena

TRUMBULL—There was standing room only at the Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena (220 Shelton Road, Trumbull) on Monday evening, April 29, as people from far and wide gathered for a joyful and beautiful Mass in the presence of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars and patron saint of all Catholic priests.

The Most Reverend Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus of Hartford, was the Principal Celebrant and Homilist for this Mass, which took place on the parish’s patronal feast, the Solemnity of Saint Catherine of Siena. In his homily, Archbishop Cronin reflected on St. John Vianney’s call to the priesthood, and his clear understanding of his mission, as a priest, to save souls. In the school Mass on Tuesday morning, which was well attended by parishioners, others from the community, and students from St. Catherine of Siena School, St. Mark School in Stratford, and St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Father John Connaughton, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Bridgeport, noted further that each of us has an obligation to help others seek holiness as part of our own pathway to Heaven.

Throughout the all-night vigil, which immediately followed Mass and lasted well into the morning, people from all over Connecticut and beyond came in droves, pouring into the church to pray in the presence of the heart, which is still intact—perhaps miraculously—though Vianney died 160 years ago. “Many of the people who were there were from outside our parish. We were delighted to welcome them,” observed Father Joseph Marcello, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish. “The turnout on Monday and especially through the night was clear evidence that people are searching for the truth and recognizing holiness in our midst. It was so encouraging, and a very bright light in the midst of the shadows of the scandals which have caused such pain to everyone who loves Christ and the Church.”

“Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the soul and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.” – St. John Vianney

St. John Vianney was born in 1786 in Dardilly, France, and served for 41 years as a parish priest in the French town of Ars. His priestly ministry was so astoundingly fruitful that he became world-famous, especially for his work as a confessor. He spent as many as 18 hours a day hearing the confessions of people who traveled from throughout Europe to see the priest who was known for such extraordinary holiness and piety, and to experience the love and mercy of God. St. John Vianney died August 4, 1859. His heart, which is normally kept for veneration at the Shrine of Ars in France, is incorrupt. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925 and proclaimed him patron saint of parish priests and confessors in 1929. A century after his death, Pope St. John XXIII reflected on the life of the saint, and what it means to be a holy priest: The pastor of Ars lived a life of great penance, whose “only motives were the love of God and the desire for the salvation of the souls of his neighbors.”

The Catholic Church teaches that a relic is offered to the faithful for veneration, but neither the relic nor the saint is worshipped. Veneration recognizes the fact that God has worked through the saint.

The Shrine of Ars, France has entrusted the heart of St. John Vianney to the Knights of Columbus for a national US tour through June 2019. The Shrine and the Knights of Columbus had discussed a relic tour, which began at the Knights’ birthplace in New Haven, CT last November, before the Church’s sexual abuse scandals broke during the summer of 2018. After the scandals broke, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said: “We now welcome as providential this opportunity to invoke the intercession of the patron of parish priests, whose holiness and integrity is a singular model for clergy…St. John Vianney offers an example to help the Church heal and rebuild.”

(For more information about St. John Vianney and the Relic Pilgrimage, please visit

The Parish of Saint Catherine of Siena warmly welcomes anyone who is new to our area, anyone who is searching for the truth, or anyone who is looking for a spiritual home. We are joyfully and faithfully Roman Catholic in belief and practice—a community of faith, worship, service, and formation—and with open hearts we invite all our brothers and sisters into a living and saving friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the communion of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are conveniently located at 220 Shelton Road in the Nichols area of Trumbull.