- Candace Neff Director
News & Press Releases
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Pope Declares "Year for Priests"
On March 16, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI announced that a special Year for Priests will commence on June 19, 2009 in an effort to encourage "spiritual perfection" in priests. The Holy Father will open the special year with a vespers service in Rome on June 19the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the day for the sanctification of priests. The year will close during a World Meeting of Priests in St. Peter's Square on June 19, 2010. During this jubilee year, the Pope will also proclaim St. John Vianney to be patron saint of all the world's priests. At present he is considered the patron saint of parish priests. St. John Vianney is widely known to Catholics as the Cure (parish priest) of Ars who won over the hearts of his villagers in France by visiting with them, teaching them about God and reconciling people to the Lord in the confessional. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the death of this 19th-Century saint who represents a "true example of a priest at the service of the flock of Christ," Pope Benedict XVI said. About the Icon: Explanation of the icon of Christ the Great High Priest Iconographer Marek Czarnecki of Seraphic Restorations in Meriden, Connecticut, has graciously given the USCCB the rights to use the icon of Christ the Great High Priest during the Year for Priests. This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28 x 22) is based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a winding grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney. Czarnecki explains: I wrote the icon about seven years ago [for seminarians and priests] to be able to see Christ in themselves, and themselves in Christ. We often hear that the icon is called a window; in this case, its also meant to be a mirror. The Good Shepherd reminds the priest that he is to lay down his life for his sheep. (www.seraphicrestorations.com) For more information on The Year for Priests please visit www.usccb.org/yearforpriests.