BANGOR, Maine — Catholics this week will be able to have a personal encounter with a saint when the one-man show “Vianney” is performed around the state this week.
Sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the production will begin its tour Tuesday in the St. John Valley in the parish named for the priest.
“Vianney” is a part of the Vatican’s dedication of the year June 2009 through June 2010 to priests, according to Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese.
Actor Leonardo Defilippis of Battle Ground, Wash., will portray John Vianney, the French peasant who was born May 8, 1786, three years before the storming of the Bastille that began the French Revolution.
Defilippis’ production company, St. Luke Productions, developed the multimedia stage productions last year as a way to encourage vocations, according to information on the firm’s Web site. The actor has said that the era in which Vianney lived “mirrors the secularization, materialism and anti-religious sentiment of our own day.”
“I do really believe that St. John Vianney is a model for our times, and I see a new generation of priests springing up who are challenged and motivated by his intense longing to save souls,” Defilippis said last year in an interview with Religious Life magazine.
Vianney was ordained in 1818 and sent to Ars, described on Defilippis’ Web site as “a tiny, out-of-the-way parish with a shabby church, few resources and a lax spiritual life.” Over the next decade the priest turned Ars into a “vibrant Christian community.”
As word of miracles in Ars spread, 20,000 people a year came to confess their sins to Vianney. The priest died in 1859 at the age of 73. He was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, who made him patron of parish priests in 1929.
“Vianney” will be presented at 7 p.m. on:
— Tuesday at St. Louis Catholic Church, 26 East Main St., Fort Kent.
— Wednesday at St. Mary Catholic Church, 768 Ohio St., Bangor.
— Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 178 Elm St., Biddeford.
— Friday at Catherine McAuley Catholic High School, 631 Stevens Ave., Portland.
— Saturday at the Franco American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston.
For more information about “Vianney,” visit www.stlukeproductions.com.