Catholics Line Up to Worship the Flesh of a Dead Priest in Tennessee

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TENNESSEAN — Catholics lined up Wednesday to see a relic of a 19th century French priest.

The heart of St. Jean Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, is traveling the country and made a one-day stop at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville. 

After the morning Mass wrapped up, churchgoers stood single file in the center aisle waiting to take in the small, dark object nestled in an ornate, gold case. The relic is considered to be the physical, incorrupted heart of Vianney, who died Aug. 4, 1859. 

The faithful took turns quietly kneeling before the relic under the watchful eye of a member of the Knights of Columbus. The fraternal Catholic organization is not only sponsoring the relic’s seven-month tour of the U.S., but guarding it while on public display.

“Something like this is just shy of once in a lifetime,” said the Rev. Edward Steiner, pastor of the Nashville cathedral. 

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