Better known as the 'Cure of Ars', St Vianney -- whose body was dried, darkened but otherwise found to be incorrupt when exhumed 100 years ago -- is the patron saint of parish priests and his relics began their four-day official Irish tour in Cork yesterday.
John Baptiste Marie Vianney was born in 1786 the son of a poor farmer and was initially thought too slow and incompetent to ever become a priest.
However, his remarkable life of poverty, kindness, devotion to his parishioners in Ars and his commitment to spending up to 18 hours a day hearing confession won him national acclaim.
He also became known for the miraculous cures he could affect with the sick and his ability to foretell future events.
By the time he died in 1859, people would travel from all over Europe to hear him preach or receive his blessing. Up to 20,000 pilgrims a year are estimated to have visited Ars in the final years of his life.
He was canonised by the Catholic Church in 1925.
The saint's relics, which are among the most sought-after in the Catholic Church, were brought to St Francis Church on Cork's Liberty Street yesterday.
The Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce, who helped organise the tour, said it was an honour for Ireland to host the relics.
"I had to struggle a little bit to get them and to get a slot when they were free," he said.
"As you can imagine, this relic is going all over the world, from Ars to other continents.
"When we phoned first of all to ask, we found out the relic had been in Argentina for a few weeks, so we are very fortunate in that way," he said. Bishop Boyce also said it was very fitting that the relics arrived in Ireland during the official Year for Priests.
"They will hopefully help deepen priests' commitment -- to a renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the gospel in today's world, because this priest lived his vocation very intensely and gave himself heart and soul to the Lord as a priest.
"He is a wonderful, shining example to all priests," Bishop Boyce added.SIC: II