Thursday, January 5, 2006
St. John Neumann

Taken on July 26, 2013. Copyright "A Catholic Life" Blog

Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 5

January 5th is the feastday of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860), a bishop from the United States who did much missionary work and preaching. He is not found on the traditional Catholic calendar as we as only canonized in 1977. But his life is still one of great merits. He took the Great Commission seriously and went out to preach the Gospel.

Born on March 28, 1811, at Prachititz, Bohemia (Czech Republic), St. John Neumann lived as a quiet boy along with his four sisters and a brother. He was named after Saint John Nepomucene. Called to the religious life, St. John Neumann studied as a seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia, and he studied Theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833. Coincidentally, the date of St. John Neumann's ordination was pushed aside as the Bishop became ill. Since Bohemia had an abundance of priests, the ordination was not rescheduled. St. John Neumann walked most of the way through France and boarded a ship to America where he hoped to be ordained.

In 1836, there were 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in New York and New Jersey. Consequently, when St. John Neumann arrived that year, he was wholeheartedly welcomed by Bishop John Dubois. Ordained finally on June 28, 1936, St. John Neumann chose to work in an area with a small, unfinished church. When it was completed, he moved to a town with a small log cabin. He ate and drank very little, practiced penance, and continued to minister to the various ethnicities. St. John Neumann spoke 12 languages.

In 1840, St. John Neumann joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and took his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841. He was the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. In 1852, he became Bishop of Philadelphia. Over the course of his life, St. John Neumann Built fifty churches and began building a cathedral along with opening nearly 100 schools. He wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. St. John Neumann died on January 5, 1860, of a stroke at 13th and Vine Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,. He was canonized by Paul VI in 1977.

He is the first American man and the first American bishop to be canonized.  His body is today at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia.

Listen to a 5-minute sermon on St. John Neumann.


O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father's House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

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