The Secret of the Curé D’Ars – Book Review

The Secret of the Curé D’Ars

By Henri Ghéon

"Of all great hearts, the greatest is still the heart of a saint. For it wants to contain not only its neighbour, strangers, all suffering, sinful, warring humanity - but God Himself."

If like most laity nowadays you won’t take the time to read a very lengthy biography, for example Abbé Trochu’s masterpiece about Saint John Marie Vianney, you will surely be able to fit into your busy schedule this little offering by Henri Ghéon called “The Secret of the Curé D’Ars” to great profit despite its brevity!

Though I’ve had both biographies in my bookcase for decades, I’m saving Trochu’s for a later date when (hopefully) I will have the time to do it justice, yet Ghéon’s book which is among a series of hagiographies written by him, called “Secrets of the Saints,” though short, is very inspiring and edifying – and well worth reading!

As you progress through these just over 200 pages, you will fall in love with St. John Marie Vianney, as is the case whenever we delve into the details of any saint’s life more so than just the daily missal readings. Yet, more importantly, as you see the hand of the Divinity working so wonderfully in this most beautiful soul, you will grow in love for God as you marvel at His grace and glory! Indeed, “Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints!”

Henri Ghéon’s overview is somewhat poetic in its style, and his artistic flair and unique insights and way of presenting concepts and events has the ability to touch the heart and allow you to see aspects of the saint’s life in ways you’ve never thought of before.

Amidst recounting a long train of miracles effected during his lifetime, many being cures of physical ailments: “Leave him his cross” the holy St. John Vianney is quoted as having said, because “he thought it useful – much more useful – to leave men their diseases,” Ghéon adds.

“That, after all, is the point you always get back to with the saints. Not one of them – not the most smiling, gentle, compassionate saint of them all – has ever preached anything other. The central point of their Master’s preaching is that voluntary act by which He nailed Himself to the cross.”

“Whatever may be the thought by our humanitarian age, which cares only for the well-being of the body, the diminution of men’s sufferings – on this earth, which is only a point in space; in this life, which is only an instant in time – is of no importance beside the saving of their souls – and, incidentally, their bodies – from an eternity of torment: an eternity deprived of that face-to-face vision of God which is the only happiness worth our striving.”

Catholics will surely really enjoy getting into this book despite it being so densely packed and moving that it might bring you to tears (of joy) most of the time. It is so interesting and uplifting that I found it very hard to put down – whilst rereading parts again and again along the way.

Having read about four biographies of this saint, though I really like them all, this is my favourite. So, after discovering this author’s collection about 30 years ago, thanks to the second-hand book market, I was delighted to finally see one of his instructive and charming titles come back into print quite recently! Hence, I had to stock it in our True Restoration store so others could similarly delight in this French author’s special gift of being able to stimulate pious and true appreciation of such a dear and precious saint.

“There you have the secret of his existence” posits the author towards the close of this account, “It was vain for him to aspire to “the better part”; he had it – in his cares, his temptations, his sufferings, his daily over-work. He seemed weak and was strong; he seemed worn out and was stripped for action; he seemed sad and was joyful. His desolations were as nothing compared with the consolations which God showered upon him. … He seemed no longer to be of this world; he went isolated from men as by a “glory,” which yet he bore with a most moving humility.”

Readers will also appreciate that contained in this book is the essay by G. K. Chesterton which was written as the Epilogue to the first English edition of  "The Secret of the Cure D’ Ars” in the 1940s, which seems too good to have not included!



Theresa is Director of True Restoration Press and hostess of the Restoration Radio series, “The Catholic Home.” She is a cradle Catholic, homeschooling mother residing in Australia.

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