A Play: Saint John Vianney


CHARACTERS: Husband, Wife, Pilgrim, Grandpa, Francine
(Pilgrim chases a husband and his wife down the street)
Pilgrim: Sir!
Husband: Yes? You look tired.
Pilgrim: I’ve come all the way from Paris. Who’s that white-haired man over there?
Wife: You are new! That’s Father John Vianney. I thought everyone in France knew about him.
Pilgrim: Wow! (Stopping and pointing) Look at all those people. There are at least 70 of them in that line. What are they doing there?
Wife: What are they doing there? What’s wrong with you? Why, they’re standing in line for confession. He hears confessions sometimes 15 hours a day. John Vianney can read hearts. Once he told me exactly what I had been thinking but was afraid to say.
Pilgrim: I think I have heard about him. John Vianney was the fellow who couldn’t pass the seminary exam. He had to go through two seminaries to become a priest.
Husband: Well, they didn’t know about his common sense and his goodness, that’s all. That man is the holiest priest around. (spotting an old man and a girl) Grandpa Lacord, come here. We’ve met a pilgrim.
Welcome to Ars, my boy. My niece, Francine.
Francine: (curtsy) Good day, sir.

We’re telling this lad about Father John Vianney.

A man of God. You know this was a wild, wild town, son.
Pilgrim: How so?
Francine: Drinking and dancing till all hours of the night. The people were gamblers, and they were very rowdy.
Wife: For shame, Francine. Ars wasn’t all that bad!
Grandpa: Was too! Then Father Vianney came to the ritzy rectory. Know what he did first?
Pilgrim: From what it sounds like, he probably gave everything away.
Francine: That’s right. He sent it back to the lady who gave it, with a letter of thanks.
Wife: Then he moved in a few pieces of poor furniture instead.
Husband: After that, he visited every family in the parish. He pleaded with the people to stop sinning and come back to the Church.
Pilgrim I bet some hated that.
Grandpa: They did. Once they stood and screamed outside his house all night and threw mud at his door.
Wife: (lowers her voice) Speaking of screaming, do you know sometimes we hear loud noises coming from the house late at night? People say that even the devil comes to tempt John Vianney to leave.
Francine: But it doesn’t work. John Vianney prays hard. He is good to everyone.
Husband: He gives his own food and money to those who are poor.
Wife: He says if people pray and love one another, there will be happiness. He never says an unkind word.
Pilgrim: He sounds like a priest I’d like to meet.

Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio