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Un sanctuaire et son saint au XIXe siècle: Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney, curé d'Ars

Philippe Boutry
Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales
35e Année, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 1980), pp. 353-379
Published by: EHESS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27581048
Page Count: 27
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Un sanctuaire et son saint au XIXe siècle: Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney, curé d'Ars
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Abstract

For 41 years, Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) was priest in a rural parish in the Dombes. The conversion of the village, which he embarked on in 1818, created a haven of christianity immune from the contaminations of the "age". This conversion rested upon the veneration inspired by the exceptional personality of the "holy priest", and upon a pastoral strategy based on the family, the support of the municipality, the sense of locality, and respect for the autonomy and homogeneity of peasant society. It bred a unanimous, fervent, piety, free from the contamination of folklore. But to what extent could this sanctuary or refuge, untouched by its age, act as a model for the latter? The pilgrimage to Ars, which grew up after 1830, and which had become the most important in France by the time of the saint's death, offers the same ambiguous message. What these catholic crowds flocked to see was a man canonised in his own lifetime; they thus gradually contributed to the hagiography of holy priest, a missionary, a confessor, prophet and thaumaturge. The fervour of the crowds that came to Ars obviously reflects the vitality of religion in XIXth century France, but it also reflects the convergence of believers upon a sanctuary of exceptional note.

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