Saint John Neumann

Born at Prachitz in Bohemia on March 28, 1811, John showed early signs of considerable intellectual ability, coupled to a wish to become a religious servant. He went to school in Budweis, and then to the diocesan seminary in 1831. He continued his theological studies at the Charles Ferdinand University in Prague, where he went in 1833, but on completion of his studies he was not ordained to serve his home diocese because of the great number of clergy already at work there.

For this reason, he determined to leave Europe and to set out for the New World as a missionary. Soon after his arrival in New York he was promptly ordained by Bishop James Dubois on June 25, 1836. He spent four years of pastoral work in and around Buffalo before joining the Redemptorists. For a short time, he oversaw the American vice-province of the order, though for most of the time he returned to parish work where his chief care was for the establishment of schools.

In 1852 Pope Pius IX appointed him Bishop of Philadelphia, and this office gave him yet great scope for his efforts to increase the system of parochial schools and in a short time the population of his schools increased twenty-fold. He also erected many new parishes, introduced the devotion of the Forty Hours, and began the building of the cathedral. His large diocese was not wealthy, and Neumann became known for his personal frugality. He kept and wore only one pair of boots throughout his residence in the United States. When given a new set of vestments as a gift, he would often use them to outfit the newest ordained priest in the Diocese. Discouraged by constant conflict with religiously and racially prejudiced people, as well as the anti-Catholic riots and arson of religious buildings, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but Pope Pius IX insisted that he continue. In 1854, Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St. Peter's Basilica on December 8, along with 53 cardinals, 139 other bishops, and thousands of priests and laity, when Pope Pius IX solemnly defined, ex cathedra, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Bishop Neuman visited Bastress twice during the pastorate of Father Grundner. On August 15, 1856 he was here and confirmed thirty-seven parishioners and on June 9, 1858 he confirmed fifty-seven more.While running errands on January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a Philadelphia street. He was 48 years old. Bishop John Neumann was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized by that same pope on June 19, 1977. His feast day is January 5, the date of his death.

 

St. John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R.

Born March 28, 1811, Died January 5, 1860

Ordained June 5, 1836

Installed as Forth Bishop of Philadelphia March 28, 1852

Canonized by Pope Paul VI, June 19, 1977

 

 

St. John Neumann’s Entry in the Immaculate Conception Sacramental Record, June 10, 1858.

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