Jean-Marie Vianney was an undistinguished man until his extraordinary gift of psychological insight and skill in individual counseling was revealed in his ministry. His direction, primarily given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and extraordinary knowledge through the power of the Holy Spirit. He was able to sense the deeper truth beyond the words of the person seeking reconciliation and provide guidance. It was said of him that he could see into people's souls. As his fame spread, people came from hundreds of miles to hear him preach and to receive his private counsel.
During the last ten years of his life, he spent from 13 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties, and the sick. By 1855, the number of pilgrims to Ars reached twenty thousand a year.
Read more: About St. John Vianney