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Dardilly village belongs to the low mountains that rise near Lyon. One of the inhabitants had Pierre Vianney, married Marie Charavay. Besides a prosperous farmer, he was also a man of faith, and much emphasis on the practice of Christian virtue of charity. In July, 1770 fame of his good deeds from his door a beggar a saint.

Tormented by scruples, Benoit Labre had just left the Trappist monastery in September-Fonds, where there had been a novice under the name Brother Urban. He had received a guarantee that his vocation was a wanderer for the rest of his life, so he set out for Rome. His first stop was Paray-le-Monial, where he paid a long visit to the chapel of the mind. From Paray he traveled to Lyon, but instead in the city tonight, he chose to spend the night at Dardilly. In observing a number of poor people who travel to the House of Pierre Vianney, went with them.
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Benoit Labre was strangely dressed. He wore a robe the beginner, which he may hold as she left the convent. A portfolio is suspended from his shoulders, a rosary hanging around his neck, and a brass crucifix fell on his chest. A breviary, an imitation, and the book of the Gospels was his luggage.

In this strange equipment in his small housing for low-roofed house Vianney. The master of the house when he saw him all the needy people. The children watched with pity as the unhappy man, in whom their parents had taught them to see Jesus Christ himself. Matthieu, one of the five boys. Little did he guess, because he considered youthful beggar, so pale and so humble, telling his beads all the time that he himself would one days the father of a saint. In the large kitchen, close to the mantelpiece, where, sixteen years later a child of predestination hot little bare feet, Benoit Labre and his comrades in distress, sitting with Vianney for steaming plates of soup, followed by meat and vegetables. After the grace and night prayers, the guests were shown a place in the course of the bakery, where they slept, and then a thick layer of straw to their beds. In the morning before they left, one and all with their hosts, but the refined, gentle young expressed his gratitude in terms which clearly showed that he was no common beggar.

Great was the surprise of Pierre Vianney than a little later, he received a letter from the poor pilgrim. Benoit Labre said rarely, hospitality Dardilly must have touched him deeply, perhaps God had given him an idea of the child for the blessing that one day shed eternal shine on this house.
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Eight years after this event, February 11, 1778, at Ecully, a village nearly a league of Dardilly, married Marie Matthieu Vianney Belus. If Matthieu was a good Christian, including his young wife, who the most valuable dowry of a diligent and enlightened faith.

The union was blessed by God. They had six children, all had the habit of moving the time, was dedicated to Our Lady, even before birth. The names of the children were: Catherine, married at a young age, and died shortly after her marriage, Jeanne-Marie, who for a better world, where about five years old, Francis, heir to his father's house, Jean-Marie, who now hardly known by a name other than The Cure d'Ars, Marguerite, the only surviving of the six, and in some years, her holy brother, and finally another Francois, known as Cadet, who, on joining the army , Dardilly left never to return.

Jean-Marie was born at midnight on May 8, 1786, and baptized the same day. His godparents were an uncle and aunt - namely, Jean-Marie Vianney, a younger brother of his father, and his wife Francoise Martinon. The Godfather, without looking farther, were satisfied with just giving his own name to his godson.

Once the last corner, a popular seems from the start, things began to notice, his mother took pleasure pointing out that his crucifix and holy pictures that decorated the rooms of the house. When the small arms were strong enough to deal with some ease, they led the hand of the front head and chest of the chest to shoulder. The child quickly became a habit to do this, then one days - he was about fifteen months old - his mother has forgotten to help him make the sign of the cross before him food, refused to be the small mouth open at the same time vigorously shakes his head. Marie Vianney knew what he meant, and soon she had the little hand-pinched lips opened up spontaneously helped.

Should we conclude that even from the cradle of Jean-Marie Vianney gave clear indications of the future holiness, as we read in the life of St. Raymond Nonnatus, St. Cajetan, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Rose Lima and many others ? Not one of the existing documents suggest such a phenomenon. But in everything to do with religion, he was a precocious child, and responded much better than his brothers and sisters to care for his admirable mother. He was easily one of the steps aimed at God. From eighteen months, when the family met for the night prayer he would, by their own free will, kneeling with them - perhaps simply due to natural imitativeness - and he knew how to work with her little hands in prayer.

Prayers ended, his pious mother brought him to bed, and before a final, she bent over to hug him, talk to him about Jesus, Mary, his Guardian Angel. In this way, to break the happy mother baby sleep.

Once he could stand on his legs, he was found throughout the house, while not far from the border, because on the other side of the yard to the garden, there was a deep valley where cattle used to drink. For this reason, Jean-Marie almost never left his mother, as she was busy, and at her side, their key task of teaching her son began while she does housework, teaching him in a way that can easily be taken by his childlike spirits. This way they taught him "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" together with some basic concepts about God and the soul.

Little, who was very alert for his age, even naive ask. What interested him most was the sweet mystery of the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem and the story of the manger and the shepherds.

This famous speeches were sometimes far into the night. For the sake of hearing the story of the Bible, Jean-Marie was ready to sit up late with his mother, Catherine, the most faithful of his sisters. Sometimes he even knelt on the stone floor, folding his hands and put them in his mother.

In fine weather of early Matthieu Vianney in the areas where his wife and children came to him during the morning. Catherine and Francois went to the oldest, hold in your hand and drove sheep and cows. A donkey came back, on his back Jean-Marie and Marguerite, whose nickname was Gothon. Arriving at the fields, children playing on grass or pasture-kept herd. Jean-Marie was a bright and lively boy who could make endless enthusiasm in their play. Contrary to the assertion of his first biographer, he was far from one of those young who have no miracles of the charm and vibrancy of their age. This brown hair, blue eyes boy, with his pale skin and expressive face, do not miss a certain petulance, even though his piety was ahead of his time. "He was born with a violent nature, his kindness was the perfect fruit of long and meritorious action. But from his tenderest years sensitive and nervous child, studied art himself conquest. His mother, fully aware of the power of example often held him as a model for his brothers and sisters "Look," she said, because they refused to obey quickly, "Jean-Marie is much more obedient than you, he does it in one time, he said. "

But again, at least there were tears. The boy had a rosary, which he appreciated. Gothon that eighteen months younger, took a fancy to her brother of pearls, and, of course, wanted to take possession of them. It was a scene between brother and sister, who cries, stamping of feet, and even an initial skirmish, when suddenly, full of sorrow, the poor child ran to his mother. Gently, but firmly, she asked him to give the beads to Gothon: "Yes, my love, give them to her love of the good God." Jean-Marie, but bathed in tears, immediately surrendered his precious rosary. For a child of four was probably not significant sacrifice! Instead of petting and dry his tears Fondling child, his mother gave him a small wooden statue of Our Lady. The raw image was long on the mantelpiece of the kitchen chimney, and little had often wanted to own it. Eventually he was real! What a joy! "Oh, how I loved that statue, he admitted seventy years later," either by day or night I should be separated from it. I have not slept, I had not had beside me in my bed ... the virgin was the object of my first love, I loved her even before I knew her. "

Some of his contemporaries, has his sister Marguerite, in particular, told how, at the first sound of the Angelus, he was on his knees for someone else. At other times he can be found in one corner of the house is kneeling before the statue of Our Lady, which he had placed on a chair.

Children do not become victims of senseless human disease that respect. How it happened, at home or in the garden, on street, Jean-Marie, like her mother had the habit of "blessing of hours" - that is, when he heard the clock strike the hour, he would cross and say a "Hail Mary," ends with yet another sign of the cross. A neighbor who saw him perform one days of this practice, to Matthieu Vianney said: "I think the little brown hairs of your husband brings me to the devil." When Matthieu incident, the mother of the boy asked for an explanation: "I did not know that our neighbor was looking," was the reply, "but we have not cross ourselves before and after the prayer?"

Some women in the neighborhood, hearing of the child praying aloud, he told his parents: "He knows his litany well. You have to make either a priest or a brother."

Marie Vianney may not know the beautiful future of her favorite child, it had, the beauty of his precious soul in her eyes, and she spared no effort to hold him in the very shadow of sin: "Behold, I ask I wonder if Jean "They used to say," if your brothers and sisters was to offend the good God, it would really hurt much, but I would much sorrier for him to insult you. "

Her Jean-Marie is no ordinary child. Even before the forces of his mind had reached their full development, the privileged child of grace was the first step taken in the usual way, that seems to be the true explanation of the following events.

On one night - he was about four years old - Jean-Marie left the house unnoticed. When his mother learned of his absence, she called him by his name, but no answer came. With growing fear, she searched for him in the garden, behind Rick straw and wood piles. Small could not find them. But he never fails to answer the first call. As she walked to the barn where he can hide, derived from the mother suddenly remembered with horror that deep pond filled with murky water from which the cattle used to drink! But what was her surprise when she saw the spectacle now presented itself to her eyes? There, in one corner of the barn, among the cattle quiet rumination had her boy on his knees and prayed with folded hands for his statue of Our Lady. At one point she caught him in her arms and press him to her heart: "Oh, darling, you were here!" she cried, in a stream of tears. "Why hide when you ask yourself? You know we all say our prayers together."

The child, unable to think of anything but grief from his mother, cried out: "Forgive me, mother, I do not think I do not again."

While these domestic scenes were set in a small and obscure hamlet, had a harrowing events of nature took place in France. But neither the plunder of Saint-Lazare and the taking of the Bastille (July 13 and 14, 1789) or decree depriving the clergy of their profits' (November 2), or the monasteries and promises of religion abolished (February 13 1790) seems to have had the good country people: they were either poorly informed or unable to understand the significance of these events. Why was not disturbed their peace of mind until the day the civil constitution of the clergy, the Revolution threatened their priests and their altars (November 26, 1790).

Mme. Vianney was a woman of "eminent piety." Where possible they will go to daily Mass Catherine, her eldest daughter, accompanied by her as a rule, but soon her favorite companion came to the little four years old, the precocious piety led him to enjoy the things of God . As the bells of the church near announced that Mass was about to say, Jean-Marie asked his mother to let him go with her. The request was granted. She put him to her in the family bank, and explained to him what was the pastor at the altar. The child soon developed a love for sacred ceremonies. But his attention was split: the needle-investment side of the celebrant enchanted him while he was completely overwhelmed with admiration for the red and white of the altar boy cassock Rochet. He would also have to serve at the altar, but how could his slender arms that lift heavy missal? From time to time, he returned to his mother, it was an inspiration just to see her so absorbed in prayer, and when it was explained by an inner fire.

In subsequent years, when people congratulated him on his early love for prayer and the church, he used to say with many tears: "If God, I owe to my mother, she was so good! Virtue is easily removed from the heart of a mother in her children. A child is lucky to have never seen a good mother or her thinking about her without tears. "

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