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Thousands venerate relic of patron of priests

The relic is carried in procession by Fathers Daniel Hennessey and Michael Harrington towards the chapel in St. John’s Seminary Oct. 12. Following them are Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Guy Bagnard of the Diocese of Belley-Ars, France. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BRIGHTON -- The heart of the patron saint of priests traveled to the Archdiocese of Boston from France last week and many who venerated the relic said they hoped the visit would promote vocations and healing in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Over 7,000 clergy, seminarians, religious and lay Catholics came to see the heart of St. John Marie Vianney, an incorrupt relic hosted by the archdiocese from Oct. 12-14, according to Father Daniel Hennessey of the archdiocesan Vocation Office, which organized the event.

The heart, encased in a reliquary of glass and gold with a wooden base, traveled from its home at the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France. It has only left the shrine on two other occasions -- once for St. Vianney’s canonization in Rome and the other for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany. During this trip to the United States, the heart was hosted in New York before coming to Boston.

In a day of prayer open to clergy and religious, the relic was hosted at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton on Oct. 12. The relic also traveled to St. Mary Parish in Weston on Oct. 13 and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Oct. 14 for events open to the public. The three-day event began with a procession outside St. John’s Seminary to the statue of St. Vianney that stands behind the seminary.

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